ORLANDO – The Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC) has long been known for providing reliable and affordable service as OUC — The Reliable One, but is now taking a dramatic step towards being known as The Sustainable One too! This week, OUC signed an agreement to build nearly 13 megawatts (MW) of clean, renewable energy at its Curtis H. Stanton Energy Center in east Orange County.
“We looked at all types of options that utilized existing OUC property and decided the landfill would be ideal. To our knowledge, this unique installation will be the only solar array in the United States with panels placed over a landfill at a power plant,” said OUC General Manager & CEO Ken Ksionek.
The new arrays, which will consist of more than 41,000 solar panels, will blanket more than 31 acres of land that has sat cleared of tree cover for many years. American Capital Energy will be build and maintain the solar and charge OUC just 7 cents per kilowatt-hour through a Power Purchase Agreement over the next 20 years. That’s a cost that’s competitive with traditional fuels that OUC uses for its much larger power plants which remain critical to providing energy needed for the area’s economic growth. The new array will provide enough electricity to power about 1500 homes. “OUC is serious about sustainability and increasing our use of renewables. I was pleased to see the competitiveness of the prices we received for this project and how much the cost has decreased in the last few years,” Ksionek said.
OUC had already opened the largest solar farm at 6 MW in Orange County back in 2012. Combined with the existing array, those nearly 19 MW can keep the lights on for more than 2,100 homes. The Commission has already installed arrays at the Orange County Convention Center, its Gardenia operations Center, Orlando Science Center, on numerous streetlights and on its own Gold LEED-certified headquarters building downtown. That’s just the beginning, as there are numerous other projects in the works including a partnership with the United States Tennis Association’s new facility in Lake Nona.
“I see this solar project as a learning opportunity for our employees. As this is constructed, our engineers and technicians will work hand-in-hand with the builder. We will learn more about solar, how the arrays are built and maintained — and will use our own expertise to build solar installations for our customers,” Ksionek added.
About the Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC)
Established in 1923 by a special act of the Florida Legislature, OUC —The Reliable One is the second largest municipal utility in Florida and 14th largest municipal in the country. OUC provides electric, water, chilled water and/or lighting services to more than 234,000 customers in Orlando, St. Cloud and parts of unincorporated Orange and Osceola counties. According to data provided by the Florida Public Service Commission, OUC has been more reliable than the state’s investor-owned utilities for 17 years running. OUC is focused not just on reliability and affordability, but weaves sustainability into everything it does. This includes opening the area’s first community solar farm, installing nearly 150 electric vehicle charging stations, implementing a comprehensive corporate recycling program and encouraging its customers to use energy and water as wisely as possible.