By Chris Castro and Linda Ferrone
The City of Orlando and OUC – The Reliable One are charged up about how our partnership is powering electric vehicle growth throughout Central Florida. Together we’re raising awareness of the environmental and economic benefits of EVs as we seek to reach our carbon emission-reduction goals in the coming years.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the transportation sector is the largest contributor of greenhouse gases, a leading cause of climate change. Electrifying transportation would reduce global CO2 emissions, which in turn would improve air quality and public health.
EVs play a critical part of OUC and the City’s goals of improving air quality and reducing carbon emission levels. The City has made a bold commitment to transition 100% of the City’s fleet vehicles to electric and alternative-fuel vehicles by 2030, including the entire LYNX public transit fleet. OUC has committed to investing $45 million in electrification programs aimed at putting more than 40,000 EVs on the road in Central Florida by 2030. The utility also has set a goal of reaching Net Zero CO2 by 2050, as well as interim targets of 50% CO2 emissions reduction by 2030 and 75% by 2040 from 2005 levels.
OUC has installed more than 200 EV charging stations and expects to have a total of 300 in place by spring 2021, making Orlando one of the top 10 most EV-ready cities in the nation. Increasing the availability of charging stations alleviates “range anxiety,” an obstacle to EV ownership.
EVs may cost more than their conventional counterparts, but the price difference is often offset with rebates, tax credits and savings on fuel and maintenance. Consider, for example, that if you drove an EV 10,000 miles per year you would spend about $300 annually on charging costs versus from $660 at $2 per gallon to $1,000 at $3 per gallon on gas for a car that gets 30 mpg.
EVs in Our Community
One of the most visible ways OUC and the City, together with LYNX, is bringing EV technology to Central Florida is with the introduction of 14 battery electric buses on Orlando’s streets. Thanks in part to a $1.9 million “Low or No Emission Grant” from the Federal Transit Administration, these LYNX “ebuses” will eliminate 420,000 kg of carbon dioxide annually.
Downtown also soon will be the site of the largest high-speed EV charging facility in Florida, thanks to a $500,000 grant awarded by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. The City, OUC, Orange County and Power Electronics, the maker of EV charging equipment, are working together on the project, the Robinson (Street) Recharge Mobility Hub. Set for completion in early 2021, the hub will feature up to 22 fast-charging stations with the capability to serve all types of EVs.
EV drivers will be attracted to the site’s close proximity to the downtown business district, where they can shop, run errands or grab a bite to eat while waiting a mere 10 minutes to “top off” their charge or 20-60 minutes for a full charge.
Chris Castro is senior advisor to Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and the Director of the City’s Office of Sustainability & Resilience. Chris leads the Green Works Orlando initiative launched in 2007 to transform the City of Orlando into one of the most environmentally-friendly, socially inclusive and equitable, and economically vibrant cities in America.
Linda Ferrone is Chief Customer and Marketing Officer for Orlando Utilities Commission. Established in 1923 by a special act of the Florida Legislature, OUC—The Reliable One is the second largest municipal utility in Florida. OUC provides electric and water services to about 400,000 accounts in Orlando, St. Cloud and parts of unincorporated Orange and Osceola counties.