Brooksville to host Rattler Solar Center

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Florida A&M University is partnering with Duke Energy to build the Rattler Solar Center in Brooksville, located in Hernando County.

FAMU received the land in 2015 from the United States Department of Agriculture. The federal government transferred 3,860 acres, the largest transfer of land for any HBCU land grant institution.

The agreement between FAMU and Duke Energy is with a capacity of 74.9 megawatts. It will house approximately 210,000 solar panels, embodying a substantial leap toward clean energy production, according to a FAMU news release. Additionally, the facility is engineered to operate safely, quietly, and reliably for approximately 30 years. More information is provided on the FAMU website.

Onokpise Oghenekome, associate dean and professor in the College of Agriculture and Food Sciences, has been involved in the partnership with Duke Energy.

Onokpise referenced a written agreement between Duke Energy and FAMU, which is a ground lease agreement. Before any construction, Duke Energy’s agreement must be approved by the FAMU Board of Trustees, which means everything goes through the president’s office.

The agreement indicated, “Duke Energy will be a tenant on the land and providing solar panels for solar farmers that will constitute 800 acres out of 3,860 acres, which the utility has agreed upon to establish this solar farm.”

Duke Energy will pay FAMU $425 pre-acre during reconstruction for all 800 acres. The estimated total that FAMU will receive from Duke Energy is approximately $340.000.

There was a delay with the original agreement. It was anticipated by 2020 that it would be operational by 2024-2025. The solar farm should be established by January 2025 and be operational by the first quarter of 2026, Onokpise told The Famuan.

“Students can visit this site at this point in time to do research. With the solar panels under construction, students will be able to come and see the process. All the schools at FAMU will benefit from Duke Energy — especially students who are in the area of green energy, for example, students in engineering, journalism, and food science, will be able to visit for research,” he said.

“If students want to come prior, that is before construction or during construction, you just let us know,” Onokpise added.

The solar farm will be able to provide research resources to graduate and undergrad students. Students have already been coming to do research at the Brooksville property.

Leading this project at FAMU are Dale Wesson, interim dean of CAFS, and Kome Onokopise, interim executive director of the Brooksville Agriculture Experimental Research Station.

For more information about the Rattler Solar Center, contact BAERS at (850) 412-7821.