OUC has been named a 2021 Environmental Champion in Escalent’s Utility Trusted Brand and Customer Engagement study. This is the fourth year in a row OUC has claimed the honor, which only 31 utilities nationwide received. Environmental Champions are selected based on survey results from utility customers who rate their energy providers on sustainability stewardship in their business operations, energy efficiency programs and service to their customers.
“As we celebrate Earth Month, OUC is proud that our customers recognize our long-standing commitment to sustainability and energy innovation,” said Clint Bullock, OUC’s General Manager & CEO. “This honor is particularly notable this year as we made significant strides toward our goal of Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050. From announcing we would convert our coal plants to natural gas, adding more solar energy, and introducing multiple electric vehicle initiatives, the past 12 months have been transformational, and it’s only the beginning as we work toward a more sustainable future.”
OUC has undertaken several environmental initiatives including:
- Announcing a goal to achieve Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050, as well as interim targets of 50% carbon emissions reduction by 2030 and 75% by 2040. To meet this goal, in October 2020, OUC announced plans to convert its coal units to natural gas.
- Increasing utility-scale solar capacity dramatically, adding 108.5 megawatts of solar energy at two new solar farms last summer, and recently announcing two additional solar farms that will provide another 149 megawatts when they come online in 2023. Combined, that’s more than 270 megawatts of solar through utility scale and OUCommunity solar programs. Additionally, to encourage more customers to subscribe to solar, OUC’s board recently approved a reduced community solar farm rate from 6 cents to 4.5 cents, effective July 1, 2021. The lower rate would save about $180 per year for a community solar customer using 12,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) annually.
- Expanding investment and infrastructure for electric vehicles (EVs) through a $45 million commitment to innovative electrification programs, including support for eBuses, dealership programs, charging hubs, and additional EV charging stations, bringing OUC’s total installed charging stations to 300 – maintaining Orlando’s position as one of the Top 10 most EV-ready cities in the nation.
- Continuing the utility’s commitment to energy efficiency by meeting its goal to achieve 1% of savings of retail sales in 2020. That commitment will only grow in 2021, as OUC has committed to a $30 million investment in efficiency and conservation efforts by 2030, including even more enhancements to low-income programs and technology solutions, as well as a conservation goal of 1% of retail sales for 2021.
To determine Environmental Champions, Escalent conducted surveys among residential electric, natural gas and combination utility customers of the 140 largest U.S. utility companies over the last 12 months and scored the utilities on an Environmental Dedication index. Those scoring high enough on the index have been named Environmental Champions. The findings of the 2021 Utility Trusted Brand and Customer Engagement study can be viewed here.