Altamonte Electric Utility
On October 3, 2017, the Altamonte Springs City Commission approved the unique creation of the Altamonte Electric Utility (AEU). This municipal utility plans to provide a diverse array of renewable energy sources for our government facilities. As technology changes and costs keep rising, the City feels this is the right time to explore saving options for our taxpayers.
The Florida Public Service Commission (FPSC) establishes exclusive utility service territories and regulates the rates and profits of a utility provider. Long ago, the FPSC granted the Altamonte Springs service area to Duke Energy to serve residential and commercial customers. Through our franchise agreement with Duke Energy, the City negotiated to reserve the right to produce energy and power our own facilities. Our goal was to explore alternative energy options to save taxpayer dollars in the future.
The City’s annual electric costs typically range between $1.5 and $2 million. We are a 24/7 operation that runs every hour of every day. To help put this in perspective, our wastewater plant is a massive electric user, running large pumps and industrial processes both day and night, fair weather and foul.
We have offices that are open around the clock, computer and communications systems that never sleep and our police force is constantly on duty. We have a number of buildings and offices that are always in service, as well as certain systems that cannot turn off. Therefore, we need to find cheaper ways to keep our facilities open and running.
Our primary AEU goals are to self-power our City facilities, reduce our electric costs and save as much taxpayer money as possible. Streetlights, city-owned buildings, utilities, signs, parks and recreation amenities are a few of the locations where we are looking to add renewable energy. We have a long history of pioneering environmental and cost-saving projects, beginning in the 1970s with Project APRICOT’s reclaimed water program, to pureALTA, our award-winning water purification system and A-FIRST, which captures and reuses stormwater from I-4. AEU follows our trend of fiscally-conservative planning, coupled with conservation and creativity, aimed at cutting expenses and reducing our carbon footprint. Solar generation, chemical fuel cell systems, natural gas, wind turbines and other technologies are all options we are currently exploring.
In addition to financial savings, the gradual implementation of new power sources will help to provide stability and assurance at times when power is most critical, such as during and after a hurricane. It is important that city employees can quickly and effectively respond to our community’s needs following a storm. Our residents’ level of expectation constantly drives us to be prepared and find better ways to provide services. By establishing AEU, we are continuing to do just that.
As we look ahead over the next several decades for cost effective, sustainable and renewable systems, we anticipate working with Duke Energy and others to assist us as we take yet another innovative step for our City and future generations.
It is common to read in today’s news about government doing the same thing, the same way, no matter the day. In fairness, it is not easy for government to "get out of the box." Altamonte Springs is widely known not only for thinking and acting outside of the box, but doing so as a daily part of our work ethic. It is an aspect of what we call the "Altamonte Way."
"This is a feasible and practical move toward a sustainable future for Altamonte Springs," said City Manager Frank Martz. "As we are able to cut costs in the coming decades, it puts the City in a financial position where we can continue giving consistent, high quality service to our residents."