Orlando’s energy future is looking cleaner and greener with OUC – The Reliable One leading the way.

From solar power and battery storage to electric vehicle charging stations to net-zero carbon emission goals, OUC is exploring and investing in environmentally sustainable solutions that will improve Central Florida’s quality of life for generations to come.

We’re building on a new strategic plan that commits us to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, with a near-term goal of reducing carbon emissions by 50% by 2030 from 2005 levels. And we intend to reach these milestones while continuing to provide reliable and affordable energy.

OUC has already committed to add, by 2025, 270.5 megawatts of solar energy – enough to power about 50,000 homes in Florida – making us the leading utility in the state in solar watts per customer. This summer will mark a giant leap forward in our transition to clean energy sources when two solar farms begin supplying clean power to our grid.

Complementing our investments in solar power, which by themselves total hundreds of millions of dollars, is a $90 million OUC research initiative exploring hydrogen and large-scale battery storage. With Orlando experiencing 277 days of partly cloudy or cloudy weather a year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, it is incumbent upon us to develop storage capacity that addresses the variability of solar generation. OUC, by the way, is one of first electric utilities in the country to investigate hydrogen production, storage and utilization as a way to mitigate the intermittency of solar.

As we seek out innovations that could help reduce carbon emissions related to power generation, we’re also leading the charge to curb greenhouse gases by increasing the use of EVs. Under our strategic plan, we are investing $45 million in programs that promote the electrification of transportation. By building an EV charging infrastructure (we’ve already installed 167 charging stations in Orlando and plan to add 150) and incentivizing ownership of EVs, we hope to see 100,000 battery-powered vehicles traveling on Central Florida roads by 2030. Accomplishing this goal alone would remove 450,000 tons of CO2 from the atmosphere.

Having helped Orlando become a top 10 EV-ready city, OUC is now advocating for construction of a statewide EV charging infrastructure. Making charging stations as abundant as gas stations, particularly along hurricane evacuation routes, would ease range anxiety, a major obstacle to growing EV ownership. With more electric cars on our roads, the air would be cleaner and the outdoors would be quieter.

Meanwhile, we’re playing supporting roles in the city’s switch to an EV fleet and Lynx’s transition to electric battery buses on downtown’s LYMMO line, moves that hopefully will inspire businesses and residents to adopt cleaner methods of mobility.

That OUC is helping make Orlando a cleaner, greener city should come as no surprise. We have a rich history of working with local partners on solar energy projects going back more than a decade. For example, in 2009, the Orange County Convention Center flipped the switch on a 1 megawatt rooftop solar array, the largest of its kind in the Southeast at the time. OUC contributed $1.5 million to the project and received 10 years’ worth of Renewable Energy Credits in that amount. A year later, OUC, the Orlando Science Center and AZUR Solar USA formed a partnership to install a 31-kilowatt photovoltaic system that also would be used for educational purposes at the popular venue in Loch Haven Park. And in January 2020, OUC lent assistance to SALT Outreach, helping the non-profit group with the procurement and installation of solar panels on its mobile shower trailer for the homeless.

With more than 240,000 customers and counting relying on us for reliable and affordable electricity, we realize a lot is riding on the decisions we make about Orlando’s energy future. Through new technologies, conservation-related energy efficiency rebate programs and collaboration with customers and our community, we will continue to make inroads as a responsible steward of energy.

And while proceeding with caution, OUC will be guided by a core value of doing the right thing – today, tomorrow and well into the future.