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Black Communities Concerned About Pending Alachua County Commission Decision On New Archer Solar Farm

As the Alachua Board of County Commissioners moves to consider a new Archer solar farm in March, some communities remain concerned about the impacts this facility may have. 

Archer residents in historically Black farming communities are speaking out against the proposal to build a solar farm along Southwest County Road 346.  The plan — from Gainesville Regional Utilities and Origis Energy — intends to bring Gainesville closer to producing 100% renewable energy by 2045.

However, Archer residents say this plan does not include them. 

Jeraldine McMillan, who raises cows and chickens on her Archer property, said she is concerned that her community will not receive any energy from the facility.

“None of us here in the surrounding areas that’s gonna be affected by these projects (will) benefit from it," McMillan said. 

GRU Project Manager Chuck Heidt confirmed the facility’s energy production would not go to Archer residents.

Clarece Polke, a U.S. Foreign Service Officer from Archer, said she has seen a pattern of these facilities being proposed in Black communities. 

“History keeps repeating itself when it comes to energy companies using these rural Black communities specifically as a dumping ground for their solar farms," Polke said. 

Polke said her concern is that the solar farm will decrease property values in these communities. 

According to Heidt, Origis Energy is working to address some of these concerns. The Board of County Commissioners will consider the plan on March 23.

If approved, Heidt says the facility is expected to begin supplying energy in early 2023.

Valeriya is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.