Gardenia Parking Lot Transformed into Solar Garden
ORLANDO – Eighteen OUC customer subscribers joined OUC Board President Dan Kirby, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Director of the Florida Office of Energy Patrick Sheehan and ESA Renewables Chief Operating Officer Lindsay Herold on Tuesday to celebrate the completion of OUC’s and Central Florida’s first community solar farm.
This past spring OUC gave customers the opportunity to subscribe to the innovative solar array and receive the benefits of solar power without the hassle or upfront costs associated with installing it. The 39 subscribing customers will pay a slightly higher rate for the solar power – about three cents more per kilowatt hour (kWh) – but that rate is locked in for the next 25 years. It also gives customers who rent the ability to invest in solar, an attractive option considering about 55 percent of OUC customers live in multi-family housing.
“OUC is giving its customers the ability to invest in the benefits of solar whether they own or rent their home – and they can do it all without the upfront costs or hassle of having to install it,” OUC Board President Dan Kirby said. “The response to this was exciting and with a waiting list in place we’re already looking at doing a second community solar project.”
The solar farm began producing power earlier this month and now 1,312 solar panels are generating 400 kilowatts (kW) of power at OUC’s Gardenia Operations facility next to I-4. The panels are on three canopies, which have created 151 covered LED-lit parking spaces over about 2.5 acres.
A total of 39 customers have subscribed to the Community Solar Farm. Each kW of the farm’s 400 kW was sold in blocks, with a limit of 15 blocks per customer. Each block represents 112 kWh on a customer’s monthly bill, so the maximum benefit per customer is 1,680 kWh. The average OUC residential customer uses about 1,200 kWh. Any unused power would create a billing credit.
“In the years to come, we want to see more solar in Orlando. We want to grow renewable energy industry here in Central Florida. We look forward to seeing more investments like the one OUC is dedicating today,” Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said.
ESA Renewables will own and operate the array. OUC has agreed to purchase power for the next 25 years.
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 nearly 228,000 customers in Orlando, St. Cloud and parts of unincorporated Orange and Osceola counties.
About ESA Renewables
ESA Renewables, LLC (ESA) is an alternative energy provider, focused on delivering turnkey commercial and industrial photovoltaic projects to customers worldwide. ESA Renewables’ complete scope of services has resulted in over 500 installations worldwide involving 45 different utility companies. From viability studies and project development to engineering, construction, monitoring, commissioning and obtaining the necessary administrative permits, ESA does it all.