Orlando Region: Energy
“I’ve never seen any-thing like this. This is tremendous.”
Marc Hoenstine, director of economic development for Duke Energy in Florida, is talking about Duke’s
$4.6 billion grid-modernization program, involving enhancements both to utility systems and customer service.
Duke is working to further storm-proof its delivery of power by going underground in many places across the region — 1,200 new miles — as well as replacing conductors and transformers and adding advanced remote meter-reading technology. Essentially, the program will cover the next 10 years for the company, which provides service to most of Orange County (except for areas serviced by OUC, the Orlando Utilities Commission), along with parts of Osceola and Seminole counties.
Solar is and will play a prominent role for Duke, OUC and others (notably, Florida Power & Light) to which Hoenstine comments, “There is a rush to find what land sites for solar would work.”
Duke has a goal of securing more than 700 megawatts of solar within the next years. With up to six acres required for production of each megawatt, the chunks of land are sizable. To date across the region, Duke has one such new solar project in operation, located in Osceola County, and others throughout Florida.
In 2011, OUC completed the first solar farm in Orange County at its Curtis H. Stanton Energy Center — a 5.9-megawatt solar photovoltaic array that provides energy to power more than 600 homes. In December 2017, Orlando’s goals for renewable energy and fuels gained traction with the dedication of OUC’s Kenneth P. Ksionek Community Solar Farm at the Stanton Energy Center. More than 37,500 solar panels are located on land once designated for a coal plant. Spread across 24 acres, the panels are capable of generating power for 2,100 homes.
Not coincidently, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer has a goal of having 100% of municipal electricity coming from renewable sources by 2030.