Where Does Gainesville Get Its Power From?


Gainesville, Florida gets its power from a mix of traditional fossil fuel sources like coal and natural gas as well as renewable sources like solar and biomass. The main power plants supplying electricity to Gainesville residents and businesses include the Deerhaven Generating Station which runs on natural gas, the Gainesville Renewable Energy Center which runs on biomass, Payne’s Prairie Solar Facility, and the Trimble Shoals and Pearl Solar Plants which run on solar power.


Gainesville first got electricity in the late 1800s when the Gainesville Gas & Electric Light Company was established. At that time, electricity was generated from coal and fed into a small distribution system that powered street lights, businesses, and some homes in the city.

Over the decades, Gainesville’s energy mix evolved as new technologies emerged. By the 1950s, the city started utilizing natural gas and fuel oil for electricity generation at the Kelly Power Plant. In the 1970s, Gainesville built the coal-fired Deerhaven Power Plant to meet growing energy demands. The utility added nuclear power in the 1980s with the acquisition of a share of the Crystal River Nuclear Plant.

More recently, Gainesville has diversified into renewable energy. Since 2009, the city has brought online multiple solar farms totaling over 40 megawatts of capacity. Biomass was added to the generation mix in 2013 with the 100-megawatt Gainesville Renewable Energy Center. Today, Gainesville’s mix consists of natural gas, nuclear, coal, solar, and biomass.


Coal was historically a major source of electricity generation for Gainesville. The Gainesville Generating Station, located just southwest of downtown Gainesville, operated as a coal-fired power plant from 1982 to 2018. At its peak, the plant had over 200 megawatts of generating capacity and provided a substantial portion of Gainesville’s electricity needs.

However, due to environmental regulations and cost factors, the Gainesville Generating Station transitioned from burning coal to natural gas in 2013. In 2018, the plant was officially retired and decommissioned by Gainesville Regional Utilities.

Currently, there are no operational coal power plants contributing electricity to the Gainesville metro area. The shift away from coal represents a broader trend in Florida and across the United States of retiring coal plants in favor of cleaner natural gas and renewable energy sources.

Natural Gas

Natural gas is a significant source of power generation for Gainesville. The city owns two natural gas power plants, the Deerhaven Power Plant and the Robert W. Clarke Power Plant. Both plants primarily run on natural gas to produce electricity for the area.

The Deerhaven Power Plant has 4 generating units and is located northwest of High Springs, Florida. It has a nameplate capacity of 361 megawatts and first opened in 1987. The Robert W. Clarke Power Plant has 2 generating units located east of Gainesville. It has a nameplate capacity of 252 megawatts and first opened in 1992.

Together, the Deerhaven and Robert W. Clarke natural gas power plants supply over 600 megawatts of generating capacity fueled by natural gas to meet Gainesville’s electricity needs. As the city’s population and energy demand grows, these plants help provide reliable baseload power from natural gas to homes and businesses across the area.


Gainesville does not have any nuclear power plants located within the city limits that contribute electricity directly to the area. However, Florida does have 4 nuclear power plants that provide electricity to the state’s power grid: the St. Lucie Nuclear Power Plant, Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Station, Crystal River Energy Complex (recently retired), and Farley Nuclear Generating Station in Alabama. So while Gainesville itself does not have a nuclear plant providing power, it does receive some nuclear-generated electricity from the state’s overall energy mix.

Nuclear power provides a stable baseload source of electricity that complements renewable energy sources like solar and wind which have variable output. Around 20% of Florida’s electricity comes from nuclear energy. As the state continues to grow and electricity demand rises, nuclear will remain an important part of the energy portfolio along with renewables and natural gas. Maintaining the existing nuclear plants and developing new advanced reactor technologies will be important in transitioning away from fossil fuels and achieving carbon reduction goals while ensuring a reliable grid.


Currently, there are no major hydroelectric power plants directly contributing electricity to Gainesville. However, some of the electricity purchased from outside providers comes from hydroelectric sources.

The closest major hydroelectric facility is the Rodman Dam, located on the Ocklawaha River about 60 miles east of Gainesville. The Rodman Dam was completed in 1968 and can generate 28 megawatts of electricity. While small relative to other power sources, the dam does provide renewable hydroelectric power to parts of north-central Florida.

Gainesville has explored local small-scale hydroelectric projects, such as retrofitting dams along Paynes Prairie with turbine generators. However, these have not yet come to fruition. Hydroelectric power remains a very small contributor to Gainesville’s overall electricity mix.


As a leader in solar power production in Florida, Gainesville has made significant investments in solar energy over the last decade. In 2009, Gainesville became the first city in the state to generate electricity from a solar farm when the Deerhaven Renewable plant came online with a 14.7 megawatt capacity. This was followed in 2016 by the commissioning of the solar array at the Gainesville Regional Airport, which generates over 8 megawatts of power.

Today, Gainesville has over 25 megawatts of installed solar photovoltaic capacity providing clean renewable electricity to the grid. This accounts for around 7% of the city’s peak energy demand. The bulk of this solar generation comes from the two large solar farms at Deerhaven and the airport. However, there has also been major growth in distributed rooftop solar panels on homes, businesses and government buildings across the city. RG&E offers a solar feed-in tariff program that allows residents and businesses to sell excess solar power back to the grid.

With abundant sunshine and supportive policies, Gainesville is expected to continue expanding its solar energy production. The city has set goals to source 100% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2045. Meeting these targets will require major investments in new large-scale solar projects as well as growth in rooftop solar adoption. This will help improve local air quality, reduce carbon emissions and increase energy independence.


Gainesville does get some of its electricity from wind power. The city purchases renewable energy credits from wind farms located elsewhere in Florida and across the Southern United States. While there are currently no utility-scale wind farms located directly in Gainesville, these renewable energy credits financially support wind power on the broader grid.

Gainesville first began purchasing wind power credits in 2009 as part of its agreement with GRU GreenUp. This program allows Gainesville residents and businesses to opt in and pay a premium on their electric bill to purchase renewable energy. The revenue from GRU GreenUp helped fund the development of two wind farms in Florida.

Today, GRU continues to buy renewable energy credits annually from wind farms certified by Green-e Energy. In 2020, wind power made up around 7.5% of Gainesville’s renewable energy credit purchases. While wind makes a relatively small contribution compared to solar, it does diversify Gainesville’s renewable energy portfolio.

Looking ahead, there may be opportunities to develop utility-scale wind farms nearer to Gainesville as wind turbine technology continues to advance. But for now, wind power supports the city’s renewable energy goals primarily through regional renewable energy credit purchases rather than local generation.


Gainesville gets some of its electricity from biomass power plants. Biomass refers to organic matter that can be burned to generate energy. Common forms of biomass include wood chips, agricultural waste, and methane gas from landfills.

The Gainesville Renewable Energy Center (GREC) is a 100-megawatt biomass power plant that provides 16% of the city’s electricity. It opened in 2013 and was the largest biomass plant in the U.S. at the time. The GREC biomass plant burns wood waste from the surrounding timber and construction industries to generate electricity.

gainesville gets renewable electricity from biomass fueled by wood waste

Biomass power helps diversify Gainesville’s energy supply and provides carbon-neutral baseload power capacity. It utilizes waste materials as fuel rather than fossil fuels. The biomass plant has created jobs and supports the local forestry industry by providing a market for their wood waste products.

Critics argue that biomass does release some carbon emissions when burned. There are also concerns around the sustainability of biomass fuel supplies. However, biomass plays an important role in Gainesville’s renewable energy mix and helps lower the region’s dependence on fossil fuels.


Gainesville has a diverse energy mix for electricity production. The city relies on a combination of coal, natural gas, nuclear, hydropower, solar, wind, and biomass sources to meet demand. Coal fueled the early growth of Gainesville’s electric system, but has declined in use over time. Natural gas stepped in to fill the gap as regulations on emissions from coal plants increased. Nuclear and hydropower from regionally shared facilities provide baseload generation capacity. More recently, Gainesville has tapped into renewable sources like solar, wind and biomass to continue diversifying its generation portfolio.

Looking ahead, Gainesville will likely continue expanding its renewable energy sources. Costs for solar and wind generation have declined dramatically in recent years, making them economically competitive options. With coal plants aging and facing additional environmental restrictions, renewables can help replace that lost capacity. Energy storage technology improvements may also enable greater integration of intermittent resources like solar and wind going forward. Overall, Gainesville appears poised to increase the clean energy share of its electricity mix over the next decade. This will help the city meet sustainability goals while taking advantage of favorable economics for renewables.

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