ORLANDO, Fla. — The Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC) recently unveiled plans to convince owners of downtown businesses to purchase air conditioning and the power to supply it through them.

The OUC plans to offer air conditioning directly from the city-owned water and electric company. Its $4 million gamble is designed to tie up commercial customers for the next 20 years.

According to a story in The Orlando Sentinel, OUC and partner Trigen-Cinergy Solutions, Cincinnati, are planning to construct a 3,800-sq-ft chiller plant in a former downtown Orlando parking lot. The utility plans to cool water to as low as 37°F and pump it through underground pipes to buildings signed up by OUC and Trigen-Energy. Air will be blown over the water to cool the buildings through equipment owned by the partners.

The OUC’s goal is to pick up 20,000 tons of the 100,000-ton demand for air conditioning in the downtown district. It also is looking to more chiller plant construction if businesses outside of the downtown area buy into the plan.

A utility spokesperson said in the Sentinel that the plan means business owners will be free from spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on equipment maintenance and replacement.

Keith Rice, manager of OUC’s chilled-water development, said the new plant would provide every service needed under one roof. “One stop shopping,” he added, “is what a utility can provide.”