Michael Bloomberg, the United Nations Special Envoy for Climate Action, on Feb. 8 joined City of Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, and Clint Bullock, General Manager & CEO of public power utility Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC), for a tour of OUC’s Gardenia Operations Facility
Bloomberg received a special tour of OUC’s Emerging Technologies Research and Development Laboratory and an up-close view of the utility’s 400-kW solar canopy and 31.5-kW floating solar array.
OUC in 2017 installed a floating solar array on a pond near its operations center in southwest Orlando, Fla. In late 2017, OUC dedicated a 13-megawatt solar facility on the site of a former landfill that was once designated for the construction of a future coal plant. The utility also unveiled plans to construct floating solar arrays at the site.
Bloomberg also received a briefing on new, innovative weather stations designed to predict cloud cover. OUC is setting up a highly granular weather monitoring system that will be used to help make dispatch decisions as real-time weather changes affect the output from solar panels as well as customer load.
Orlando is one of 25 cities selected to participate in the American Cities Climate Challenge through Bloomberg Philanthropies.
The program will provide a $2.5 million grant to provide technical assistance and resources. Orlando’s plans include adding 150 electric-vehicle charging stations by 2020, further converting the city’s fleet of cars and buses to electric, promoting energy efficiency in public and privately-owned buildings and expanding solar energy.
OUC has already installed a network of 165 charging stations around the area and has installed nearly 19 MW of solar.
OUC has also joined 11 public power utilities from across Florida to build three massive solar farms. Three solar sites, located on 1,200 acres in rural Orange and Osceola counties, will provide 223.5 megawatts. OUC will be the largest tenant, purchasing 108.5 megawatts of solar energy.
The joint effort is known as the Florida Municipal Solar Project. In recent news related to the project, the Kissimmee City Commission recently approved a partnership with Kissimmee Utility Authority to power 100 percent of its facilities with solar energy, beginning in 2020.
Along with Orlando, public power cities Austin, Texas, and San Antonio, Texas, on Jan. 11 were included among the list of final winners in the Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge.