OUC Could Multiply Solar Energy Production Up to Seven Times
The OUC board gave its General Manager & CEO the authority to enter into a contract to purchase between 60 to 120 megawatts of solar power that would significantly increase the utility’s investment in renewable energy. The agreement partners OUC with the Florida Municipal Power Agency (FMPA), which represents 31 municipal utilities, to jointly purchase energy from new solar farms to power homes and businesses across the state.
OUC would serve as the anchor of the project, by purchasing up to 54 percent of potentially as much as 223.5 megawatts of solar energy capacity from facilities that would be built in rural Orange and Osceola counties.
“The project is our way of leveraging economies of scale to increase OUC’s investment in renewables, and provide an opportunity to work with other municipal utilities to add large-scale solar energy to their generation portfolio,” said Ken Ksionek, General Manager & CEO. “Additionally, the project would add between four to seven times more solar to OUC’s energy portfolio as we look to ensure clean, renewable energy for generations to come.”
OUC and FMPA received seven proposals for solar generation contracts and deemed the most responsive to be from NextEra Florida Renewables, LLC. The company will build at least two or possibly three 74.5-megawatt solar farms. The facilities will likely be built near existing transmission lines for efficiency. A typical 74.5-megawatt solar farm is composed of more than 300,000 solar panels and generates enough energy to power approximately 15,000 homes. OUC and FMPA will receive the energy in the form of a Power Purchase Agreement, which means no upfront costs and the utilities only pay for energy when it is produced.
FMPA is working with up to 11 of its members who are considering participating in the project. The ultimate participation levels will determine whether two or three solar farms will be built.
“It’s great to have municipal utilities working together on a large-scale solar project,” said FMPA General Manager and CEO Jacob Williams. “This large-scale joint effort enables us to provide the most cost-effective way to add solar for customers.”
The partnership aims to have the project operational in mid-2020. The agreement will not impact OUC rates as the energy cost, which has not been finalized, is expected to be competitive with other forms of power generation.