City of Orlando and OUC collaborate on a Tiny Green Home, now on view at Orlando Science Center

click to enlarge Photo via OUCThe first Tiny Green Home has come to Central Florida in time for Orlando Science Center's Otronicon.The 162-square-foot building is an interactive display meant to educate residents on ways they can make their own homes more sustainable. The project will be housed at Loch Haven Park next to the Orlando Science Center, and open for free viewing throughout Otronicon, Feb. 12-15, and open to the public in March, according to a press release from Orlando Utilities Commission. "Guests of the Science Center will be able to visit the Tiny Green Home to get a hands-on experience with sustainability through interactive displays," Clint Bullock, OUC's general manager and CEO, said in a press release.The home features functioning solar panels on the roof, electric vehicle charging stations in the garage, apartment/condo-adaptable garden beds for vegetables, as well as information on ways residents can live sustainably. "Ideally, visitors will apply these lessons in their own lives, and make their own homes more sustainable and energy-efficient," Bullock said.In the emailed press release, OUC said they plan to deploy the mobile exhibits throughout the year.The tiny home was jointly funded by OUC and the City of Orlando, with help from Bloomberg Philanthropies' American Cities Climate Challenge. The home will be maintained by Orlando Science Center.

COVID-19 will slow Florida's hurricane response times and make electricity repairs more expensive

click to enlarge Photo via OUCRestoring electricity after hurricanes this year would have added costs because of coronavirus physical-distancing requirements, utility officials told the Florida Public Service Commission on Tuesday.Plans are underway to establish more staging areas to reduce crowds of relief workers, shift to single-serve packaging of food and revamp sleeping arrangements for restoration crews working remotely, as utilities look to prevent the spread of the virus.Jason Cutliffe, Duke Energy Florida general manager of emergency preparedness, said part of the companys changes were based on actions of first responders in New York, which has been one of the areas hardest hit by COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus.Were looking at measures like reducing work crews to smaller numbers of six to 10, ensuring that they stay together for their eating arrangements, the showering arrangements, Talley said. In limiting the interaction of people on the staging site, if there is a positive test, the contact tracing is simpler and fewer people are affected.Asked directly by Commissioner Julie Brown if increased costs are expected in the restoration process, Florida Power & Light Senior Director of Emergency Preparedness Thomas Gwaltney replied, The quick answer is, yes maam.Part of the increase could come from having to draw additional internal support as assistance from utility crews in other states might not be as large as in past years.There are some areas within the country that some of the resources actually have additional rates that they have for dealing with a pandemic, so we're not sure if that's going to be incorporated as well, Gwaltney said. It really depends on, quite honestly, when a storm and what the environment is at that time and how, you know, what's going on, probably, within the state of Florida.No one said the changes would slow restoration efforts.Paul Talley, manager of Gulf Power's emergency-preparedness team, said companies have worked the past few months in putting together guidelines and processes around mutual assistance.In this new pandemic environment, these changes have the potential to change the way we respond and restore power following a major event, Talley said. Gulf continues to prepare and plan with FPL. There's a lot of great teamwork going on between the two companies right now to make sure that we have an effective plan in place if either one of us are impacted.Gulf and FPL are both part of NextEra Energy.With the six-month hurricane season starting June 1, the Public Service Commission held the workshop to receive an overview of a wide range of issues from the utilities.