From left, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, City Commissioner Regina Hill, OUC General Manager & CEO Clint Bullock, City Commissioner Patty Sheehan, and OUC Board President Britta Gross celebrate the grand opening of the Robinson Recharge Mobility Hub.

The grand opening of the Robinson Recharge Mobility Hub in downtown Orlando on Tuesday, July 25, 2023, signaled a giant leap forward in OUC’s efforts to increase electric vehicle (EV) use as part of its pledge to significantly reduce CO2 emissions.

“Let’s get charged up!” Clint Bullock, General Manager & CEO, announced as he led a ribbon-cutting ceremony that also recognized OUC’s centennial celebration.

One of the largest EV charging facilities in Florida, the Robinson site features six 240-kilowatt (kW) and 15 120kW Level 3-rated DC chargers capable of recharging all battery-powered vehicles that accept direct current fast charging. Located on Robinson Street between the SunRail tracks and I-4, the hub is conveniently accessible to EV users living near downtown as well as those who travel to or through it.

Clint Bullock, General Manager & CEO, recognizes two milestones: the opening of the Robinson Recharge Mobility Hub and OUC’s centennial celebration.

Today’s hub opening brings us one step closer to our objective of increasing Central Florida’s EV usage to 40,000 vehicles by 2025, reducing carbon emissions by about 200,000 tons per year,” said Bullock, referring to an OUC initiative that’s focused on increasing EV ownership in the region while the utility strives to reach its goal of net zero CO2 emissions by 2050. Bullock also shared that several local rental car companies “have made a commitment to [base] 14,000 EVs . . . at the Orlando International Airport by 2025,” and OUC plans to leverage grant opportunities to install EV chargers in low- to moderate-income communities.

By supporting the construction of a robust EV charging infrastructure, which now includes the new hub and more than 400 Level 1 and Level 2 chargers spread across the region, OUC seeks to reduce “range anxiety,” a barrier car buyers often cite in keeping them from switching from gas-powered to electric vehicles.

“I can confidently say that this is a moment of unprecedent excitement and change for EV transportation,” said Britta Gross, President of OUC’s Board and a longtime advocate of transportation electrification. “In the past decade, EV battery costs have decreased by 85%, and other improvements in construction and design are making EV technology more accessible than ever. That’s having an impact. According to the Pew Research Center, four in 10 Americans say they are likely to seriously consider an EV for their next vehicle.

Also speaking at the ceremony, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and City Commissioner Regina Hill, whose District 5 is home to the hub, heralded the Robinson station as a transformational addition to the city’s clean transportation movement.

Dyer, who also serves on OUC’s Board, said the city has adopted a “2030 electric mobility roadmap that outlines the vision for a mobility ecosystem in Central Florida,” adding that the EV charging hub is “just one piece of our sustainability puzzle.”

The hub’s 20 high-speed chargers are capable of charging almost all makes and models of EVs.

Hill called the hub a “key piece in our work to expand electric vehicle infrastructure across the city. Together with our regional partners, the City of Orlando is finding ways to make it easier for residents to use alternative fuel vehicles to create a more sustainable and resilient community.”

The Robinson facility was originally scheduled to open in 2021 but ran into construction delays due to supply chain disruptions and design changes to charging dispensers. The $2.9 million project was partly funded by a $500,000 grant that project partners OUC, Power Electronics, the City of Orlando and Orange County secured from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). OUC covered most of the remaining costs of the project and donated property for the hub. CHA Engineering oversaw site engineering while Aireko Construction built the facility.

The site utilizes Orlando-based NovaCharge’s ChargeUp application for point-of-sale transaction management. To use a Robinson hub charger, an EV owner must download the ChargeUp Driver App on a smartphone and set up an account. Scanning the QR code on a dispenser activates the charger at a flat rate of 35 cents per kilowatt hour.

Supported by another $500,000 DEP grant, OUC plans to build its next high-speed EV charging hub at the Orange County Convention Center South Concourse parking lot. Construction could begin this fall, with six more hubs to follow by 2030.