City aims for 80% renewable electricity by 2035
The plan calls for the city to purchase 100% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2050
Feb. 2, 2024
By Beth Kassab
City Commissioners recently signed off on a plan to steadily increase the supply of renewable energy it purchases to light homes and businesses until it ultimately reaches 100% in about 25 years.
Winter Park is one of a dwindling number of cities that owns its electric utility, which means it has the power to choose where to purchase its energy.
Mayor Phil Anderson said the plan allows Winter Park to purchase more solar energy without increasing costs for utility customers. That’s because the cost of undergrounding powerlines in the city is already built into electric rates and as that project ends by 2030, the idea is to use that portion of the budget for more renewables.
“I came from being a skeptic to appreciating that we have an amazingly run electric utility and I’m looking at it and saying, ‘Yeah, we can do this,'” Anderson said during the meeting. “This is one of the biggest decisions that the city gets to make.”
Today natural gas makes up the bulk of the city’s power supply, which is common across Florida utilities. But the city is hoping to move away from fossil fuels into more solar and, eventually hydrogen combustion turbines.
The hydrogen option is expensive today, but the city is banking on a general principal of new technology — a decrease in cost over time.
The plan, which commissioners approved last month, calls for 80% renewable energy by 2035 with an increase to 89% by 2042. If the forecast holds, the supply will reach 100% renewables by 2050.
During the debate over electric vs. gas-powered leaf blowers at a special commission meeting last week, some resident accused the city of focusing on the singular devices without committing to a larger effort toward renewable energy.
Commissioner Todd Weaver, who is one of the leading environmental advocates on the board, noted the new push toward rewewables.
“Over the last seven years some of us up here, even before we were elected, considered a sustainability action plan,” he said.