How the Orlando Utilities Commission is trying to end coal-fired generation

Matt and Ginger talk to OUC about its plans to shift to all renewable energy by 2050

The sunshine state often looks more like the "partly cloudy state." How will OUC use renewable energy and be able to give customers consistent power during cloudy days and at nighttime?

ORLANDO, Fla. – It’s an ambitious goal: End coal-fired generation by 2050.

The Orlando Utilities Commission has set that goal and it caught the attention of many who have a lot of questions about how and when all of this will happen.

Linda Ferrone with OUC joined News 6 anchors Ginger Gadsden and Matt Austin on this week’s edition of Florida’s Fourth Estate to talk about the recommendations to significantly reduce the use of coal in phases.

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OUC gathered information during a four-month period from multiple community forums and came away with four key attributes: affordability, resilience, sustainability and reliability.

Reliability is top of mind for customers. So what happens when we rely on harnessing sunshine and there is none to be had during an event like a hurricane or a string of cloudy days?

When OUC shutters the Stanton Energy Plant, what will happen to the people who work there?

“Around here we like to call Florida the partly cloudy state. That’s what we live in,” Ferrone joked.

She said sunshine is a wonderful renewable energy and she understands the concerns of customers when it comes to consistency. Ferrone explained how solar panels have gotten better over time.

“Solar panels, they’ve gotten far more efficient. They work better on cloudy days.” Ferrone said.

She said there are mechanisms in place to help with those not-so-sunny days.

“You really have to pair battery storage, we call it energy storage, with solar,” Ferrone explained.

The pairing of solar with battery will ensure customers that their lights will stay on even in inclement weather. The other big issue that has people worried is cost.

OUC has a plan to use only renewable energy by 2040, but many people want to know how much it's going to cost.

Ferrone said there is a lot of technology involved with solar energy and it continues to change.

As technology changes their plans have to adjust accordingly. She said one of the reasons they selected this path is that it helps keep costs down.

If you would like to know more about how OUC plans to achieve Net Zero CO2 Emissions by 2050, use the links below download this week’s episode of Florida’s Fourth Estate.

Florida’s Fourth Estate looks at everything from swampy politics to a fragile environment and even the crazy headlines that make Florida the craziest state in the Union.

Ginger Gadsden and Matt Austin use decades of experience as journalists to dissect the headlines that impact Florida. Each week they have a guest host who helps give an irreverent look at the issues impacting the Sunshine State. Big influencers, like Attorney John Morgan, renowned Florida journalists and the scientists protecting Florida’s ecosystem, can often be found as guests.

Look for new episodes every Friday on iTunes, Sticher or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.

Listen to the full episode of Florida’s Fourth Estate on iTunes here or on Sticher here.

About the Author:

Ginger Gadsden joined the News 6 team in June 2014 as an anchor/reporter. She currently co-anchors the 4 p.m. 5:30 p.m. and the 7 p.m. newscasts.