Central Florida Roundup
OUC's clean energy plan to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050
OUC’s Green Shift
Clint Bullock has worked at the Orlando Utilities Commission — Florida’s second-largest municipal utility — for more than three decades. He became CEO and general manager in 2018 and has been focusing on creating a clean energy roadmap for OUC’s next 30 years. The plan aims to reduce carbon emissions by 50% by 2030 and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
Solar Shift: “Energy storage is significantly a part of this conversation, and how do we expand energy storage as we look at batteries and look at that technology. We’ve made a $90-million commitment (to energy storage). That’s really the piece that’s going to advance solar. By the year 2030, our portfolio will be over 50% solar and energy storage.”
Electric Vehicles: “This past year, we rolled out a program for EV charging infrastructure. There’s this chicken and egg going on: Consumers are concerned about rates and want more charging stations, and utilities are saying, ‘Before we do charging stations, we want more customers; we need more cars out on the road.’ We’re thinking, maybe we can help the discussion on charging stations and help the commercial customers come along. It’s not too far out of our level of expertise to come up with a charging station and install it — engineer it, own it and maintain it — so that’s what we’re doing to help move that market. We’ve (also) got this program now, we work with dealerships trying to talk about our electric vehicle rebate program, the benefits and trying to help them. We do ‘ride and drive’ events with our customers. We want them to come out, and we want people to test drive electric cars.”
COVID Impacts: “Our revenues were down last fiscal year on the commercial side. We have seen some residential on the uptick — because more people have been home — but in our market segment, the net effect of that has been a ($31-million) reduction in revenues, so that’s been difficult internally. Then externally, you’ve got a portion of your customer base, they have challenges paying bill. Our board approved in April a $12-million relief package. We allocated an additional $2.6 million to work with Project Care and United Way and another $1.5 million (for payment assistance) for our small commercial customers.”
- The state will pay $198 million — the biggest eminent domain settlement for a single property in Florida history — to acquire the 36-acre Crossroads of Lake Buena Vista shopping center near Disney Springs. The Florida Department of Transportation plans to demolish the strip mall to upgrade the interchange at I-4 and SR 535 to relieve congestion in that area.
- Correct Craft purchased a 300,000-sq.-ft. manufacturing plant across from its existing Orlando facility. The boat manufacturer also plans to begin building boats at a 160,000-sq.-ft. facility in Valdosta, Ga.
- Tavistock Development sold Orlando-based Century Homes to Jacksonville-based Dream Finders Homes for an undisclosed amount.
- Adam Wonus, a partner with Atrium Management, and his team of developers have shelved plans to build a five-story, Victorian-style hotel on Lake Killarney in Winter Park after critics of the $50-million project worried it would generate noise and traffic and bring unwanted commercial development.
- Canada-based Minto Communities recently purchased another 260 acres east of its Latitude Margaritaville in Daytona Beach where it plans to build 500 homes.
- ICI Homes plans to build 229 single-family homes and 27 townhouses in the second phase of its Woodhaven community in Port Orange.
- Office leasing activity in Orlando plunged 37% in 2020, according to an analysis by JLL, but average asking rents remained mostly stable, with less than a 1% decline year over year.
- New York-based Godiva Chocolatier will close all of its North American stores, including three in Orlando.
- Toronto-based TD Bank is shuttering at least a dozen branches in Florida, including one of two in Titusville.
- SpaceX announced plans for the first all-civilian astronaut mission to space from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Jared Isaacman, the billionaire founder of the fintech firm Shift4 Payments, will command the Inspiration 4 mission tentatively scheduled for the fourth quarter of this year.
- Osceola County sealed a 23-year deal with SkyWater Technology, a Minnesota-based semiconductor foundry, to operate the Center for NeoVation at NeoCity after the University of Central Florida exited the project. BRIDG will remain as a non-profit partner to fulfill ongoing Department of Defense contracts and pursue commercial partnerships. SkyWater’s move will create 220 jobs over the next five years.
- Seeking a hurricane-proof location, Spirit Airlines is moving 40% of its flight operation control center staff from Miramar to Orlando International Airport in June. The move will initially bring 75 jobs.
- The Canaveral Port Authority is waiving application fees for Brevard County businesses seeking to operate within the port’s foreign trade zone. Advantages of operating there include the deferral and reduction of duties and reliefs from tariffs.
- The Blue Man Group show at Universal has closed permanently, ending a 14- year run and 6,000 shows.
- Darden Restaurants, the Orlando-based parent company of Olive Garden and several other casual dining restaurants, is offering hourly employees two hours paid time off for each dose of the COVID-19 vaccination they get (up to four hours total), but the company is not requiring employees to get vaccinated.
- Disney World is requiring guests who’ve received a COVID-19 vaccine to wear masks and observe social distancing. The theme park giant has also halted sales of annual passes but is allowing current passholders to renew if they wish.
Read more in Florida Trend's April issue.
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