Is Mount Dora Florida’s Most Solar-Friendly City?

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Known for its lake views, fine dining, charming shops, and small town ambiance, Mount Dora is also in the running for the most solar-friendly city in Florida.  Sound hard to believe?  Maybe. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Mount Dora’s quality public servants combine with friendly policy and a community that believes in the benefits of solar, and quickly makes its case for being an extremely solar-friendly, citizen-friendly, Florida-friendly city. Here’s how.

The average permitting time for solar energy projects varies greatly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but Mount Dora consistently turns their reviews around in 3-4 days.  While not a guarantee from the City, this pattern of performance has made residential and commercial solar experiences positive and served to reduce overall costs. This predictability allows local businesses like Optimus Solar to better predict workflow and supply chain needs.  Additionally, Mount Dora building officials have shown an appetite to learn and grow with the industry, making it fun and easy to work together to serve the needs of the community.

From a financial standpoint, the City of Mount Dora participates in a ‘traditional’ net-metering program, where power produced by the solar energy system is credited to the owner at the retail power rate.  However, going a step beyond this, any excess power produced is also automatically credited to the owner’s overall municipal utility bill (including water, etc,. because Mount Dora owns and runs its own electric utility).  This provides a consistent 12-month return to the system owner, helping to reduce their expenses.

These policies have recently proven extremely effective in incentivizing locals to go solar. For example, Optimus Solar operates a net-zero warehouse and office in the City, and has an effective utility bill of $10 per month across all services.  Additionally, due to its generous policy, a large commercial owner in the City has implemented a system with 108 solar panels, investing in the community, keeping money local, and providing a wonderful marketing story for the building’s tenants.

Mount Dora has built a rich history as a close-knit, caring community. This legacy is evident through the community’s current favorable approach to solar energy adoption, which will ensure that Mount Dora remains renown for its positive impact on residents, businesses and the state through its environmental policies.  The City has the further potential to save $2,000 per year per government vehicle by switching to EV’s. Once that transition inevitably occurs, residents will see an improvement in air quality, noise reduction, and further financial benefits in this pedestrian-based historic downtown corridor. Evidence would indicate that Mount Dora, self-proclaimed “Someplace Special” is indeed that, especially when it comes to solar.

 

Historic Downtown Mount Dora Building Goes Solar with Optimus

Surveying the roof at 402 Donnelly

Surveying the roof at 402 Donnelly

Beginning the Solar PV installation on 402 Donnelly. Lake Dora in the background.

Beginning the Solar PV installation on 402 Donnelly. Lake Dora in the background.

The Optimus Solar team has spent the past few weeks prepping for and are excited to get working on a new commercial solar install in historic downtown Mount Dora. The building, located at the corner of 4th and Donnelly (402 Donnelly), was built in 1914 and is home to several iconic Mount Dora shops and eateries. The historic yellow brick building will now feature a 36kW solar energy system, which will offset a significant portion of the building’s energy consumption. The panels are being installed now and the system will begin producing power this month. Stay tuned for updates!

UPDATE: 8/8/19

The 402 Donnelly building is about halfway through the installation process and looking great! We can’t wait to flip the switch on this project. Check out some of the progress below.

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Net Zero Homes Coming to Mount Dora

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Picture living in a home that has no electricity bill, includes backup power during outages and real-time management of power use. Add to that a home that provides 100% of your car’s fuel for free plus no landscaping bills, no water bills and no sewer bills.  Now, picture renting that home maintenance-free with no long-term commitment. Sound idyllic?  We believe this model is the future of urban housing in the United States, and are bringing our prototype to Mount Dora!

We are strong believers in the power of local production and local consumption.  To prove how valuable this is to residents, communities and Florida, we are building the first 100% solar-powered rental units in Mount Dora, fully equipped with electric vehicle charging, home automation and available to rent as “all-in” homes, without normal hassles of monthly bill paying, deposits, grass cutting, etc.

While our primary business is residential and commercial solar installations, Optimus Solar is also a company seeking to have a broader impact on sustainability. One of these efforts includes better matching the housing market to the modern job market. The modern workforce is more fluid in their employment, moving frequently and thereby benefitting from less long-term physical obligations.  Cities and towns are more vibrant when those working and living near town are engaged in the full economic life of the city, and Optimus believes housing like this supports that reality.

We will be working with Hegstrom Homes to construct these custom units, and they will be powered by SolarTech Universal solar panels, manufactured right here in Florida.  Additionally, their battery systems will provide critical load power during storm or other outage events.  When paired with a fully electric vehicle, these homes will provide 100% of their electricity and 100% of their resident’s fuel from the sun, saving the average person more than $2,400 per year*!  This turns the old equation of importing fuel into Florida on its head, allowing us to produce what we use locally, providing a 25+ year economic multiplier to our area.

Construction is expected to take 6 months, and when fully operational, these rental homes will serve as a model for how we can better live and build as a community, bringing economic, environmental and civic value to residents, tenants, businesses and the City.

 

*Savings based on $100 per month in gas savings and $100 per month in electricity savings.