Participants Discuss Next Steps, Best Practices for Solar America City
ORLANDO – Three years after Orlando was named a Solar America City, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs and OUC—The Reliable One Commission President Maylen Dominguez kicked off the Solar Solutions Forum on Monday morning to talk about the solar projects that have sprung up in Central Florida in that time and the lessons learned along the way. About 90 participants, including elected officials, solar experts, industry leaders and stakeholders, attended the half-day forum in downtown Orlando.
In April 2008, Orlando was selected as one of 12 Solar American Cities by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), receiving a grant of $200,000 for two years to increase the use of solar technology and the amount of renewable energy. The City partnered with Orange County Government and OUC to develop a strategic energy plan with a focus on implementing solar energy and other sustainable growth strategies to mainstream solar energy and implement multiple projects.
"The City’s Green Works Orlando program is aimed at protecting our natural resources, encouraging environmentally-friendly lifestyles and business practices and engaging everyone who lives, works and visits Central Florida in the effort to ‘go green’,” Mayor Dyer said. “A key part of this plan is investing in the next generation of clean, green energy – including solar – which will lead to new high-tech, high-wage jobs for our community, diversify our economy further and continue to help us become the most environmentally-friendly City in the country.”
The City of Orlando was the primary grant applicant, while OUC serves as program manager and Orange County is an alliance partner.
“Here in Orange County, we have committed and have taken actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that provide multiple local benefits by decreasing air pollution, creating jobs, reducing energy expenditures, and saving money for the local government, its businesses and its citizens,” Mayor Jacobs said.
The strategic energy plan included a solar site survey and analysis to identify the region’s solar opportunities. It also featured a series of collaborative sessions to develop a list of solar policies and priorities to assist Metro Orlando in meeting its solar installation goals–10 Megawatts (MW) of solar by 2010 and 15 MW by 2015. The sessions featured subject matter experts who provided insight into integrating solar technologies within key sectors such as multi-family housing, new residential buildings and public buildings.
“OUC has developed a solar strategy to evaluate a mix of commercial and residential systems, solar farms and even solar on utility poles,” Dominguez said. “We want to find out how these projects impact our electric grid and identify the business models that best benefit our customers.”
The project also included the development and implementation of solar education programs targeting groups who were integral to the successful development of a sustainable solar technology base in the City of Orlando. The final outcome of the project will be a master solar plan that will lay the foundation for a viable solar market and provide a model to growing renewable energy throughout the state of Florida.
In addition to funding, the DOE provided technical assistance to help integrate solar technologies into energy planning, zoning and facilities; streamline local regulations and practices that affect solar adoption by residents and businesses; present solar financing options; and promote solar technology among residents and local businesses through outreach, curriculum development and incentive programs.
OUC—The Reliable One
Established in 1923 by a special act of the Florida Legislature, OUC—The Reliable One is the second largest municipal utility in Florida. OUC provides electric and water services to more than 221,000 customers in Orlando, St. Cloud and parts of unincorporated Orange and Osceola counties. Visit OUC.com to learn more about our commitment to reliability, affordability and sustainability.