The Orlando Utilities Commission’s (OUC) Board on August 10 approved a proposal that will allow OUC’s general manager and CEO to enter into an agreement to purchase the Osceola Generating Station, an idle 20-year-old 510-megawatt (MW) single-cycle natural gas-fired power plant located in Osceola County, Fla.
OUC noted that it was approached in May 2021 with an opportunity that would enable large-scale solar farms, mitigating the intermittency of solar power, which is the utility’s most viable source of renewable energy. The move also allows OUC to retire its oldest coal-fired power plant, Stanton Unit 1 located in East Orange County, Fla., at the utility’s Stanton Energy Center. In addition, the purchase further provides the utility an extra layer of resiliency because the Osceola site includes emergency backup fuel.
OUC said that the nearly $100 million deal to purchase and upgrade the inactive plant from Genova, a Texas-based private ownership group, will not change OUC’s commitment to its Electric Integrated Resource Plan (EIRP), the utility’s 30-year energy roadmap, to move away from all coal-fired generation by 2027. However, it would allow OUC to retire Unit 1, built in 1987, as opposed to the conversion to natural gas OUC previously announced in its EIRP in 2020.
The Osceola plant is comprised of three separate turbines – peakers that can turn on and off quickly, as opposed to the larger, older Stanton Unit 1 turbine that requires more fuel and takes many hours to turn on. The Osceola site can power up in just minutes.
OUC said it remains committed to meeting the EIRP’s objectives, which includes increasing solar energy and other renewable resources for electric generation and reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 50% by 2030 and 75% in 2040 before reaching net zero emissions by 2050.
OUC is aggressively increasing its reliance on solar energy, with plans to boost capacity to 270.5 megawatts by 2024.
Meanwhile, the utility is exploring back-up storage solutions and the use of other clean energy assets in addition to investing in electrification programs that would result in further carbon dioxide reductions and cleaner air for the community, it said.