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RELIABILITY MEETS SUSTAINABILITY

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BY: Sebastian Northshore
BY: Sebastian Northshore

OUC PLUGGED INTO GREEN FUTURE

Daring visions have shaped Central Florida’s recent history and have helped it emerge as one of the most innovative
and influential economies in the nation. From the vision of landing humans on the moon and beyond, to creating a destination where the wonders of childhood are experienced for a lifetime, the region is known for moving these transformative ideas to reality. A new and perhaps equally audacious vision was recently cast by Mayor Buddy Dyer for Orlando to be the “Greenest City in America.”

LEEDing THE WAY

Established in 1923, OUC is the second largest municipal utility in Florida and 14th largest in the country, serving more than 240,000 electric and water customers. Delivering services through 1,100 employees, OUC maintains more than 2,300 miles of power lines and 1,700 miles of water pipes.

The famous slogan “The Reliable One” is more than just a clever catchphrase; OUC has been rated No. 1 in reliability since 1998.

OUC was the first utility to completely convert to ozone water treatment in 2000.
They built the first Gold LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) building in downtown Orlando in 2008.

OUC also built the first solar farm in Orange County in 2011, checking in at just under 6 megawatts.Stanton_Power_Plant

In 2013, OUC developed Central Florida’s first Community Solar Farm at its Gardenia facility. The 400-kilowatt (kW) farm sold out of 15-kW blocks in less than a week.

Equally impressive is OUC’s fiscal output, with 2015 boasting a financial performance that was the strongest in 15 years. With operating revenues of more than $800 million, the utility enjoys an AA rating from Fitch and S&P and Aa2 from Moody’s, which has enabled them to save ratepayer money.

Sustainability has to start with the end user, and OUC has worked tirelessly to educate their customers on how to make their homes and places of business more energy efficient. OUC’s customer base has grown steadily. In 2007, the average residential customer used 1,027 kilowatt hours (kWh) per month; today, that average has dropped to 907 kWh per month. This means that though there are more customers, conservation and efficiency are making an impact on demand to the tune of almost 10 percent in energy savings. In addition, per capita water usage is among the lowest in the state. OUC per capita water usage has dropped by more than 35 percent in the last 10 years due to efficiency and conservation measures.


INSTALLING HIGH VISIBILITY SUSTAINABILITY FEATURES


To heighten consumer awareness and reinforce the message of the solar energy tsunami that is sweeping the globe, OUC is “planting” high-visibility, educational Solar Trees to showcase the benefits of solar power to its customers.

Some of these installations are located at the Citrus Bowl and the Orange County Convention Center. Other solar arrays adorn bus shelters and train stations to either offset energy used by nearby electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, or to power LED lights and charging kiosks for mobile devices.

CHARGING STATIONS

OUC_solar_SculptureOUC_Bus_ShelterOUC_Electric_CarWith the popularity and acclaim of EVs, like Elon Musk’s Tesla and other brands from Chevrolet, Ford, and Nissan, OUC has helped provide the infrastructure for sustainable transportation in our region that is light years ahead of most communities.

There are more than 300 EV charging stations in the metro area. OUC installed 140 of them, including three Fast Chargers. It’s expected that 10 years from now, there could be as many as 45,000 EVs in Central Florida and 5,000 charging stations.

HERE COMES THE SUN

OUC is currently building a new 13-megawatt “community solar farm” partially atop a landfill at SEC. It will be the largest such project on the East Coast, nearly doubling OUC’s solar capacity, making SEC arguably the most diverse power station in Florida.




 

ENSURING WATER FOR THE NEXT GENERATION

Delivering nearly 26 billion gallons of water annually to customers across a 200-square-mile territory, OUC water service is sustainable, affordable, reliable and unbeatable.

OUC_LabIn 1997, OUC was one of the first water utilities in the region to use what was then state-of-the- art ozone generation. The powerful oxidizing capability of ozone helped an already naturally clean water supply become a pristine resource enjoyed by nearly a half million people in OUC’s service territory. Ozone not only ensures water safety, but it also removes the musty odor associated with groundwater that originates as far as 1,500 feet below the earth’s surface in the Lower Floridan Aquifer. Because this precious resource is limited, the state of Florida and its water management districts encourage utilities to collaborate to develop alternative resources from reclaimed, surface, and river water. They are also taking steps to devise a means to provide equitable access and proper allocation of water over the next 20 years.

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