Minneapolis, MN – OUC—The Reliable One was awarded the prestigious 2015 Energy Innovator Award for its Community Solar Program at the American Public Power Association’s (APPA) National Conference this morning.
OUC’s Community Solar Program featured the area’s first-ever community solar farm, a 400-kilowatt photovoltaic array that also serves as a covered parking structure at OUC’s Gardenia office site. Customers were offered the opportunity to subscribe to solar power in 1-kilowatt increments at a guaranteed rate for 25 years. Within days of the announcement, the Gardenia solar farm was fully subscribed with a total of 39 customers.
“OUC’s service territory is unique, as more than half of it includes multi-family housing. Our customers wanted the benefits of solar power, but since most don’t own their homes, the option wasn’t available. Our Community Solar Program provides them what they were looking for without the burden of up-front costs,” OUC Vice President of Customer & Sustainable Services Byron Knibbs said.
To finance, construct and maintain the project, OUC partnered with ESA Renewables through a power purchase agreement. The solar array began producing power in October 2013. OUC currently has more than 100 customers on a residential waiting list for community solar and is in the process of evaluating sites for additional projects to be built in the near future.
The APPA award is especially significant since the organization represents more than 2,000 municipal public power providers serving more than 47 million customers. OUC’s successful implementation of community solar is a model for other electric utilities, especially those looking to unlock the financial or logistical barriers for their customers to participate in clean, renewable energy programs.
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 also 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.