HIGH SPRINGS — Thanks to a renewable energy center in High Springs, one Florida energy company reached a big clean energy milestone.
Duke Energy Florida surpassed one gigawatt of renewable energy, or over 1,000 megawatts. To put that into perspective, that amount can power around 350,000 households according to Duke Energy senior communications consultant Audrey Stasko. “These sites can power roughly twice as many homes [than are] in Alachua County,” said Stasko. “And that’s with carbon-free energy.”
The 700-acre facility holds 220,000 solar panels.
Duke Energy project director Coy Graham says these panels rotate to follow the sun all day long. “As the day goes by, they rotate, and they’ll roll around and follow the sun,” said Graham as he gave a tour of the facility to a packed van full of people who came to celebrate the milestone. “This is a first-time evolution for Duke for this racking system, the system that holds these panels in place.”
The company has 10 solar facilities, including High Springs, as part of their Clean Energy Connection program.
High Springs city manager Ashley Stathatos said this facility has made a positive impact to the community. “Since we’re in a springs-protection area, the renewable energy aspect [of the facility] is very important,” said Stathatos after the ribbon-cutting ceremony, “because it has a less[er] impact on the environment than other sources of energy. We’re always looking at ways to protect our natural surroundings.” She said the future is bright for High Spring’s future in renewable energy.
Alachua County District 2 commissioner Marihelen Wheeler made remarks at the event as well. She stressed the importance of continuing to follow the leads of the scientists who create clean and renewable technologies. She also said people her age may be hesitant toward these types of new innovations, but that it is important to help them understand the importance of them. “I will follow you as long as you are patient and don’t mind dragging me by the hand,” Commissioner Wheeler joked, “and being tolerant of people like me who are seemingly resistant.”