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GRU has reached an agreement to add 74.9 megawatts (MW) of solar power generation to its renewable energy portfolio through a Renewable Energy Power Purchase Agreement with FL Solar 6, LLC, an affiliate of Origis Energy. The agreement enables GRU to bring affordable solar power to our community and moves us closer to our goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2045.

The agreement also includes a 12 MW / 12MW-hr (12 MW capacity for 1 hour) battery energy storage system (“BESS”). The battery storage will add more capabilities to better serve the GRU grid with ramp rate smoothing and shifting the time when clean energy is supplied.

The project is called the Sand Bluff Solar Project. It marks the first large-scale solar plus storage project for Gainesville.


UAB Questions and Answers - May 13 


Solar + Energy Storage PPA Frequently Asked Questions: 

Would a solar facility increase electric rates?

No. The cost of the solar power is less than GRU’s average cost of power.

How is this PPA different than the biomass contract?

• GRU will not have fixed payments.

• GRU will have the ability to curtail output year-round.

• GRU will have options to purchase the facility at years 8, 12 and 16.

• Very competitive price.  

Why doesn’t GRU just build the facility itself?

The Gainesville City Commissioner voted unanimously in February 2023 to approve PPA amendments and move the project forward. Prior to this vote, GRU studied options to address changes in the PPA brought about by requests from the community and pricing factors in the market overall.

The extensive study revealed building the facility ourselves would add significant risk for GRU and the City and would delay the certainty of clean energy to our grid by at least two years.

Origis worked with our team to add more generation to help drive down ratepayer increases in the future and provide more grid services from the energy storage system.

Origis has identified a suitable site and is also able to bring significant economies of scale due to the number of projects that they are constructing.

We’re adding solar, but down the road why will we also need to add fast-response generation?

• GRU must match generation with demand at all times.

• Solar is extremely variable based on the weather.

• Fast-response generation such as natural gas-powered engines will maintain reliability and fill in solar gaps.  

What happens next?

• Origis Energy will apply for permits and/or approvals from Alachua County, the State of Florida or other jurisdictions as needed. (An approximate one-year review and approval process is anticipated).

• Origis Energy will execute an interconnection agreement with GRU.

• GRU will conduct interconnection studies, minor construction at the Parker Rd. Substation to facilitate the receipt of power on its side of the point of interconnection, and for conveyance of land rights for associated equipment.

• Origis will be responsible for design and construction of the facilities up to the point of interconnection inside GRU’s Parker Rd Substation.

What due diligence did GRU perform in its initial bid preparation?

• GRU staff met with many (>8) firms with extensive experience in designing and constructing utility-scale solar installations under a solar PPA, attended several conferences, visited multiple utility-scale solar facilities and conducted lessons-learned and best-practices sessions with other Florida utilities.

What is the expected duration of construction?

• Construction is estimated to take about 10 months.

• Land use must be approved by county (not likely to be within city limits due to large land area required).

• FAA must approve of facilities in close proximity to airports.

• Sensitive areas will be respected and managed by environmental experts.

Does Alachua County need to review the project?

• The Development Plan for solar facility and its related appurtenances will be reviewed by the Alachua County Developmental Review Committee.

Why does the contract contain redactions?

The vendors may make trade-secret claims for the purposes of public disclosure of contract terms and conditions and technical information and will be responsible for defending such claims in accordance with Florida Law and Statutes.

Where will the facility be located?

Sand Bluff Solar is located about 4 miles southeast of Archer, southwest of the intersection of CR 346 and SW 107th Street. A map of the project is located here: https://www.sandbluffsolar.com/project/

What happens to the land where the solar array is installed?

The Vendor will be responsible for determining the management of the property.  Typically, the property will be mowed several times annually with minimal disruption. 

Would we be sending money to out of town investors?

The cost to customers will be lower through a Solar PPA than if GRU were to own it outright. All of the respondents experienced with large utility scale installations were located outside the Gainesville area.

How does this support the Commission’s resolution for Net Zero renewable by 2045?

GRU already has the highest percentage of renewable electricity in Florida. The 74.9 MW of additional solar will be significantly larger than the existing 26 MW in our system. This will allow GRU to further decrease its use of non-renewable fuel sources and make progress toward Gainesville’s net zero goal.

Can we anticipate more solar down the road?

GRU will continue to monitor and evaluate its energy needs, fleet condition, and market economics as well as operational needs.  It is likely that additional tranches of solar power will require the installation of flexible generation to economically balance solar output and to meet reserve and operational requirements.