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New Solar Farm in Orlando Parking Lot

Orlando has a new solar farm in the parking lot of the Orlando Utilities Commission.

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[Photo Courtesy of Orlando Utilities Commission]

The solar farm doubles as a parking canopy for OUC employees, shielding them from sun and rain while locking in energy. 

Glaring sunshine accompanied Tuesday’s ribbon cutting ceremony and remarks from OUC Commission President Dan Kirby.  “Can anybody hear that?” he asked as those in attendance paused and strained to hear.  “Can anybody smell anything?  That is clean electricity being produced right behind you.  There’s no sound except for the din of cars on I4, and there are no emissions coming off of this.”

The paneled rooftops produce over 400,000 kilowatt hours annually, enough to power 39 houses.  When OUC offered subscribers a chance to help fund the plan, those spots filled in six days.  Phillip Arlen was among the first to sign up.  “I mean, we’re the Sunshine State.  There’s no reason we shouldn’t have more solar panels everywhere,” he says.  “The little thing that we can do to contribute to our society and our community was a step that we were more than willing to take.”

Florida has some of the best solar energy potential in the country, but it does not make utility companies use renewable energy like other states do.  Some critics balk at green options because of tax incentive costs, unreliable or insufficient production levels, and fear of the economic impact on other energy sources.

Officials say this solar farm should earn back its million-dollar price tag in a decade or two.


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