FGCU Achieves New Milestone By Going Solar

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Florida Gulf Coast University has taken it's first steps in going solar throughout the campus.

I don't know that we could get the students more excited than they are

Florida Gulf Coast University’s new solar farm marks a major milestone for a campus that opened in 1997 with a focus on environmentalism. The solar farm is the first step toward making FGCU’s campus, located in Southwest Florida, different than almost every other campus in the country.

Southwest Florida’s sunshine will soon power this corner of the state's only public university, with a solar farm that’s expected to dwarf similar facilities at colleges worldwide. The panels are part of the largest solar farm at any southeastern school and one of the largest at any school in the United States.

While some experts say solar technology is still a few years away from being truly cost efficient, everyone agrees that FGCU's solar field is a good project.

"I don't know that we could get the students more excited than they are," said FGCU President Dr. Wilson Bradshaw. "I know it will be a source of pride for the university, faculty, students and staff."

Half of the $17-million project is paid for through a partnership between FGCU and the power company. The rest comes from the state.

Florida Lieutenant Governor Jeff Kottkamp says the $8.5 million for the project is the best way to spend the school's money. We are going to save $22 million at a minimum, Kottkamp explained.

That savings comes over a 30-year period and it includes saving $700,000 per year on electric bills.

"We want to demonstrate how we can co-exist with the Southwest Florida environment," said Joe Shepard, FGCU’s vice president of finance. "This will be the largest solar field for a university in the world."

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Arlene Wright
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