Powering Strong Communities

OUC unveils plan to eliminate use of coal-fired generation by 2027

Management at Florida public power utility Orlando Utilities Commission on Oct. 14 released a recommendation to significantly reduce the use of coal by the utility no later than 2025 and eliminate it no later than 2027.

OUC would use coal-to-natural gas conversion as a technology bridge, with both converted units ultimately being retired no later than 2040.

The utility noted in a news release that the result of its electric integrated resource plan (EIRP) process supports its strategic plan for net zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050, as well as interim targets of 50% CO2 emissions reduction by 2030 and 75% by 2040.

“Using solar as the main source of new energy, OUC will also invest in energy storage and other clean technologies to ensure reliability and resiliency are maintained,” the utility said.

In the lead up to this week’s announcement, an Advisory Council was responsible for ranking four key attributes – affordability, reliability, resiliency and sustainability – and determining how they should be weighted when scoring potential energy portfolios. The council is a 12-member, independent group representing Orange County, the City of Orlando and the City of St. Cloud, Fla.

The advisory council gathered input from multiple community forums and a four-month-long online survey period.

Along with eliminating the use of coal for generation, OUC said it will accelerate solar and energy storage as primary strategies. “To allow for the acceleration of these resources and overcome the challenges of cloud cover and partly sunny days, energy storage technologies will be used to maintain reliability,” it said.

OUC will also continue to monitor cost and performance developments for new and existing clean technologies, such as hydrogen and small modular reactors.

The recommendation also provides a roadmap to diversify the utility’s generation by incorporating technologies, such as wind-by-wire generation, to greatly reduce dependency on solar and storage.

OUC also said that it will strive to maintain competitive rates for customers while achieving strategic goals.

OUC has scheduled a workshop on November 17 to further discuss the process and its results with the public.

The results of the EIRP will be approved by the OUC Board at a later date. In the future, EIRPs will be considered every five years moving forward as technology and economic conditions change.

The OUC management EIRP executive summary, as well as other educational materials, are available here.