OUC (Orlando Utilities Commission)—The Reliable One, Orlando’s municipal utility, has found a new way to weave sustainability into its clean-energy portfolio. On February 9, OUC began installing a unique floating solar array on a large pond next to its Gardenia Operations Center between John Young Parkway and I-4. Installation will take two days.
OUC will own and operate the 31.5 kilowatt (kW) facility which will float on the water and send up to 31,500 watts of electricity directly into the OUC grid. “We’re using an area that is already devoid of trees and the reflectivity of the water will actually increase the capacity of the 100 solar panels,” said OUC Vice President of Emerging Technologies Byron Knibbs noting the impetus of the project was from trying to help new developers add solar to properties which often include ponds or small lakes. The array will provide enough energy to power about five homes.
The $90,000 project, which will pay for itself in energy production over time was put together by a team of OUC renewable energy experts. The OUC project, one of only a few floating solar installation tied directly into the U.S. electrical grid is manufactured by Ciel & Terre.
OUC was the first utility in Central Florida to build a large solar farm and was one of the first in the nation to offer community solar where its customers can “buy a piece” of an array on the same Gardenia campus. A nearly 13-megawatt solar array is under construction now at OUC’s Stanton Energy Center in East Orange County where OUC also utilizes methane gas from the Orange County landfill to offset coal.