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Lower costs for Bartow's Citizens

Bartow City Commissioners and City Manager George Long set in motion events leading to lowered electric costs for the citizens of Bartow

No, that reduction in the rate for electricity that appears in your latest utility bill is not an illusion. Nearly all Bartow utility customers, both residential and commercial, will see a reduction of at least 9.5% in the amount billed for electricity under the new rate schedule that was recently adopted by the City Commission.  “It’s for real, and the reduction is not expected to be the last one” according to Bartow City Manager George Long.



Events leading to this welcome news actually date back to 2010 when the City solicited bids for the wholesale purchase of electricity. That effort resulted in termination of a 53-year relationship with the former generator and negotiation of a new contract with Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC), the lowest cost bidder, that became effective on January 1, 2011.

The OUC contract differed from traditional utility contracts in two important ways. First, it provided for wholesale purchase of electricity for a relatively short 7-year period as opposed to a more typical duration of one or more decades. The shorter term purposefully limited the period during which both the City and its customers could be “locked into” higher costs than could be justified by fuel market conditions. Second, it provided the City with the latitude to purchase up to 10% of the community’s electricity from a renewable energy generator. If achieved on a long-term reasonable fixed-rate basis, without debt or capital expense to the City, this initiative would serve as a hedge against rising electricity costs in the future and result in a cost savings to Bartow electric customers.

The OUC contract also made it possible for the City to implement a 2-9% electric rate reduction later that year for the first time in its history, despite the still-evolving impacts resulting from the Economic Crash. Unfortunately, those same impacts delayed immediate pursuit of the solar initiative.



By 2016, economic conditions had noticeably improved. The cost of traditional fuels used to generate most electricity had declined significantly, were still dropping and Bartow was in the sixth year of its OUC contract. Concurrently, an excess supply of solar panels had developed in the market, reducing the cost to construct solar projects as well as reducing the cost of solar-generated electricity.

At that point, the City solicited proposals to construct, operate and maintain a solar electricity generating facility to provide approximately 5-7% of the community’s total annual electricity demand. NovaSol Energy was selected to develop the project, at its expense, following evaluation of eleven (11) proposals that were submitted.


City of Bartow experiences lowest energy costs in April, 2018.

City of Bartow solar panel array installed by NovaSol

The City will be NovaSol’s only customer. The project has been developed on a 40-acre parcel on Gaskins Road which has been deeded to the City. In addition, NovaSol has funded and installed a rooftop solar array at City Hall that is expected to meet approximately 30% of its annual electricity demand.



Concurrent with the design and construction of the NovaSol project and, with the above-referenced OUC contract in its last year, bids were again solicited for purchase of the City’s base electricity supply. Following analysis of 46 different bid combinations that were considered, the City made an overlapping contract award (lowest cost combination) to OUC and Florida Municipal Power Association (FMPA) for 3 years and 5 years, respectively.

The new electricity contract(s) became effective on January 1, 2018 and will supply the bulk of the City’s electricity demand until January 1, 2023. The new solar project became fully operational on March 30, 2018 and will supply approximately 12 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year, enough to accommodate the needs of more than 1,000 typical Florida homes, for the next 25 years. And, a new electric rate schedule was enacted by the City Commission which became effective on April 1, 2018.

“Bartow’s electricity demand has been fully secured at a favorable cost for the next five years and, to some extent, beyond. That will translate to a substantial rate reduction for our customers,” said Long. Under the new schedule, electric rates will decline approximately 9-13% for most residential customers and 9-17% for most non-residential customers; the higher the level of electricity usage, the greater the rate reduction. “Extremely low usage customers will realize a somewhat lesser rate reduction.”



In addition to what has already been described, the City Commission recently committed to purchase 13MW of solar-generated electricity through FMPA at very favorable pricing commencing in mid-2020, further reducing the City’s cost and dependence upon traditionally-fueled generating plants. The electricity will be supplied by a new solar facility in Osceola County that will be constructed early in 2020.

Should the project proceed as expected, solar energy will be supplying an estimated 20% of the City’s total electricity demand about two years hence. Long projects that a modest electric rate reduction may be “in the cards” at that time.

But, that isn’t the end of this story.

City commissioners recently approved a revised net metering policy to further incentivize private property owners to generate their own solar electricity. Should a private system generate more electricity than needed to meet its owner’s demand, the excess will be purchased by the City through an interconnect agreement with the owner.

“It’s a win-win arrangement for both the City and its customer. But cost isn’t the only consideration. Utilization of renewal energy sources to every reasonable extent is environmentally important, as well . . . and Bartow is doing its part,” said Long.

Looking even farther down the road, Long expects to be evaluating the feasibility of incorporating large-capacity energy storage into the City electric system. Stay tuned!


Bartow's solar farm paying off

City Commissioners’ and City Manager George Long’s years of effort to lower electric rates is paying off big for the citizens of Bartow.

  • 2010 – City solicits bids for wholesale electricity
  • January, 2011 – City contracts with Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC), the lowest cost bidder, for 7 years, and includes in the contract the latitude to purchase up to 10% of the City’s electricity from a renewable energy generator.
  • The City impliments a 2-9% electric rate reduction, (first in City’s history), depending upon customer classification.
  • 2016 – City issues RFP for solar farm construction. NovaSol constructs 40-acre solar farm and installs a solar panel array on the roof of City Hall.
  • 2017 – City solicits bids for wholesale energy. City made an overlapping contract award (lowest cost combination) to OUC and Florida Municipal Power Association (FMPA) for 3 years and 5 years, respectively.
  • March, 2018 – ribbon-cut on new Solar Farm that provides 5-7% of Bartow’s electricity use. Solar panels at City Hall provides 30% of overall electricity for the building, increasing savings to the Citizens of Bartow.
  • April, May, 2018 – City of Bartow is #1 in the State of Florida for lowest residential energy costs. FMEA reports Bartow is second only to Chattahootchie for the month of June, 2018. (Latest report released)

We Are Events

Lots going on in Bartow! Follow these links for more information:


Main Street Bartow, Inc. | City of Bartow Parks and Recreation Dept. | Polk County History Center

Community Yard Sale

Always the third Saturday every month, from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., downtown Bartow.

Farmer’s Market

Each Wednesday, from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. – except the week of Christmas, come to Fort Blount Park and find fresh vegetables plus other great item at the Main Street Farmer’s Market.

Friday, Friday, Friday

Friday Fest Street Party fun continues on the third Friday of every month except for December, 6:00 p.m.! Live entertainment, and great community fun.

Saturday, Saturday, Saturday

Every second Saturday, find collectibles and treasures at the Downtown Antique Fair on East Main Street from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Main Street Bartow’s Uptown Community Yard Sale is on the third Saturday of each month on the corner of Wilson and Main. Look for bargains or sell your treasures from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

For more information on any Main Street Bartow events, call the office at (863) 519-0508. If you know someone who would like to receive the newsletter call or email Main Street Bartow. Main Street Bartow is located at 180 South Central Ave.


We Are United: Unity Day Festival

Bartow’s Unity Day Festival is coming up October 7, 2017. This event is a project of Bartow’s Community Relations Committee’s Multicultural Initiative. The Initiative’s goal is to enhance the quality of life for the Bartow community through understanding and appreciating the differences among its people. The Unity Day Festival includes ethnic foods and food vendors, music at the bandshell during the event featuring community choirs and entertainers, games for people of all ages, and lots and lots of fun. Everything is free except for food vendors. Everyone is welcome to attend.

The event is Saturday, October 7, from 11 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Mosaic Park and Bandshell.

Diversity Luncheon To Feature Dr. Harris

Bartow’s annual C.C. Corbett Diversity Awards are presented yearly during the Bartow Community Relations Committee’s  (CRC) Diversity Luncheon on the third Wednesday in September, in celebration of Bartow’s Multicultural Awareness Month.

The event begins at noon at Bartow Civic Center. A guest speaker is chosen to give the keynote address. Awards are given to a business or organization and an individual who have shown a commitment to diversity in the City of Bartow, or in surrounding communities, through mentoring, outreach initiatives, or other activities that advance the goal of inclusion. Tickets for the luncheon are $12 each and may be purchased from the Greater Bartow Chamber of Commerce, 510 North Broadway, one month prior to the event.

The C.C. Corbett award winners are traditionally announced by the CRC Co-Chairs.

“Before the passing of our friend and former Chairman, C.C. Corbett, it was his desire and the desire of the Community Relations Committee to recognize an individual and a business or organization that made it a priority to promote diversity in our community,” Mrs. Gloria Washington, CRC Co-chair, said at the last event. “The City of Bartow and the Community Relations Committee will continue to honor C.C.’s dedication to diversity by awarding the C.C. Corbett Diversity Awards.”

Two awards are given each year: one to an individual and one to a business or organization honoring them for promoting unity within the Greater Bartow area.


Past winners include:
Gloria Washington and Eastside Positive Action Committee
Ken Riley and Bartow Police Department

2015Melony Bell and Church Service Center

J.J. Corbett & TiAnViCa Riding Academy
Joyce Thurman and Mosaic
George Long and Bartow Youth Football
Sharon Casey and Polk County Sheriff’s Office
Fred Murphy and Flanders Precisionnaire
Leo Longworth and Peterson’s Cleaners
Larry Madrid and Fred’s Southern Kitchen
C. C. Corbett (posthumously) and Board of County Commissioners, Clerk of Courts
An online form to sign up as a Sponsor or to get individual tickets available by clicking on the link below.




Date: Third Wednesday in September
Projected Attendance: 200-300
Admission: $12.00 per ticket
Contact: Barbara Adamson/Jeff Clark

Presenting Sponsor: $375
• 8 general seating tickets to the event
• Logo on program
• Company name displayed at signage at the event

Sponsors: $200
• 4 general seating tickets to the event
• Logo on program
• Company name displayed at signage at the event

• 2 general seating tickets to the event
• Logo on program
• Company name displayed at signage at the event

Chamber Contact Info

+1(863) 533-7125
Greater Bartow Chamber of Commerce
510 N. Broadway Avenue
Bartow, FL 33830, USA

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