Vero council approves amended power deal with Orlando Utilities

VERO BEACH — The City Council voted 4-1 Monday morning to approve an eight-year bulk power deal with Orlando Utilities Commission, which is expected to bring a nominal rate reduction to customers starting in December.

Proposed amendments to the city’s 2008 deal with OUC had been floating around since August 2014 and most recently had been picked apart by the city’s Finance and Utilities commissions twice last week.

Vice Mayor Jay Kramer made the motion to approve, saying that he’d rather the city gone out to market for the power but realized this was not possible at this time. Vero plans to seek short-term power deals from the market when the new OUC contract ends in 2023.

Councilwoman Pilar Turner voted against the contract for several reasons, including some provisions that could keep Vero mired in expensive litigation for years if a court or state agency did something to challenge the way Vero electric does business. The contract requires the city to litigate any such challenges.

After the vote the council moved to the matter of shuttering Big Blue and asked City Manager Jim O’Connor to come back with a detailed plan for doing so. O’Connor has stated that the power plant has less than the required number of employees to maintain compliance and either the city must shut it down come Dec. 1 or hire some new employees.

The City Council is set to meet again at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

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