Alachua County OKs plan for delayed solar array near Archer

Solar panels at Duke's Trenton Solar Plant.
Solar panels at Duke's Trenton Solar Plant.
Seth Johnson

Alachua County’s Development Review Committee unanimously approved a development plan by Origis Energy for a 74.9-megawatt solar facility southeast of the city of Archer and just north of the border with Marion County.  

Origis Energy has contracted with Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU) to purchase the power produced by the site, and the development plan showed an underground transmission line running north from the solar array to a substation off Archer Road (State Road 24).  

At Thursday’s meeting, county staff said the 599-acre property, used primarily for silviculture, will be bordered by a 75-foot buffer and fence. Leading up to the meeting, Origis contacted 300 people who live near the site or transmission line for community engagement.  

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Origis plans to begin and finish construction by the end of 2024, ready to generate electricity.  

Map showing the location of the solar array compared to the city of Archer
Courtesy Alachua County The new solar site, outlined in blue, will lie just southeast of Archer.

In 2021, the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) denied the application by Origis Energy for a 50-megawatt site in Archer. The BOCC cited concerns about the impact on the adjacent historic, rural African American communities. 

The denial delayed GRU’s solar plans, forcing an extension of the agreement with Origis. The new agreement also expanded the solar facility to 74.9 megawatts and increased the purchase price for power

Origis Energy worked with the local community to address concerns and find a new parcel. The two groups signed an agreement in 2022 where Origis said it would not attempt to build on the former parcel.  

The company then found the new 599-acre property that it is now applying for building approval.  

The committee also approved a site plan for a storage facility in Jonesville, just south of where Newberry Road and SW 143rd intersect. The three-story building will house only indoor storage.  

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to include the map of the solar array site.

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A map illustrating the location would’ve been nice. But I’m glad to see we’re taking advantage of the abundant sunshine in our area to generate energy. And solar is silent, no moving parts, and easy to hide.