- OUC charter is drafted;
first Commission meeting held.
- Lake Ivanhoe water plant is placed into service.
- First addition to Lake Ivanhoe power plant is completed.
- OUC installs
lines with funds from
- OUC moves into its new building at the corner of Wall and N. Main streets
- Martin Brown is named General Manager.
- Court decision enables OUC to improve
infrastructure without City Council approval.
- OUC builds Lake Highland Service Yard.
- Curtis H Stanton becomes General Manager of OUC.
- OUC proudly celebrates 25 years of providing utilities for the Orlando area.
- Federal Water Pollution Control Act becomes law.
OUC IS CREATED TO PROVIDE
HIGH-QUALITY WATER & ELECTRICITY
When OUC was born, Florida — and Orlando — were at the height of economic prosperity. Hundreds of thousands of people had descended on the state during the early ‘20s, lured by windfall profits from land speculation. To keep up, the City embarked on a costly improvement program to provide the infrastructure for development. Notable additions to the landscape during that time included the Orlando Public Library in 1923 and the Municipal Auditorium (now the Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre) in 1926. But, the second half of the “Roaring Twenties” told a different story. Florida’s land boom began to fizzle. Investors pulled out, and the pace of growth slowed. In 1928, the San Felipe-Lake Okeechobee Hurricane cut a swath through the state, leaving widespread destruction — a metaphoric harbinger of what would soon follow. The next year, the Stock Market crash of 1929 launched the world into two decades of turmoil. But, through the Great Depression and World War II, Orlando persevered — and its fledging utility grew into a trusted and reliable partner.
When Orlando residents voted in 1923 to purchase the privately held Orlando Water & Light Company, they were setting the stage for generations of high-quality, reliable utility service that would provide the infrastructure for growth. During that year, a special act of the Florida Legislature created the Orlando Utilities Commission, providing it with full authority to operate the water and power plants as a municipal utility. OUC began serving 2,795 electric and 2,290 water customers for a total investment of $1.5 million.
At that time, the new water and electric plant facilities located on Lake Ivanhoe were just nearing completion. In 1924, the water plant was placed into service with a rated capacity of 4 million gallons per day (MGD). Two years later, the first addition to the electric portion of the plant was finished, bringing generating capacity to 9 megawatts (MW).
Through the next two decades, the citizen-owned utility grew rapidly to serve its expanding customer base. During this time, OUC completed two additions to the Lake Ivanhoe Plant and also opened its first office building located at the intersection of Washington and Main streets in downtown Orlando.
In 1926, OUC built two 250,000-gallon elevated water storage tanks to maintain an acceptable amount of water pressure at the extremities of the system. The tanks were strategically placed to release water flow that boosted pressure when it was excessively low, during times of high use. The tanks were then refilled at night when consumption was down. The "Old Copeland Tank" was located on Copeland Drive west of Orange Avenue, at the south end of the distribution system; the other tank was installed on Washington Street on the system’s east side.
At the time, Lakes Highland and Ivanhoe were OUC’s primary sources of drinking water. However, dry conditions reported in 1927 lowered water levels in these lakes, making it necessary to tap remote Lake Underhill as an additional supply source. A 24-inch raw water pipe was constructed to connect Lake Underhill to the plant on Lake Ivanhoe. Two filters were added to the Lake Ivanhoe Plant, each with a capacity of 2 MGD, bringing the total filtration capacity of the plant to 8 MGD.
By 1930, Orlando’s population had grown to 27,330, and OUC had more than 13,000 customers — a 224 percent increase in just seven years. That year, the utility generated more than 14 million kilowatts (kW) and pumped 814 million gallons of water.
Founder, Orlando Water & Light Company
JOHN M. CHENEY
Judge John M. Cheney was the founding father and visionary for reliable electric and water service in Orlando. He was a private attorney, Orlando city attorney, United States attorney and judged for the southern district of Florida, Republican candidate for governer of Florida and for the United States Senate. He also served as judge for the Orange County juvenile court.
MARTIN W. BROWN
Florida native Martin W. Brown worked his way up through the ranks of the Orlando Utilities Commission on his way to becoming General Manager in 1936. The utility’s first chief engineer, he was promoted to plant superintendent in 1932. He was secretary of the Municipal Utilities Association of Florida and the Florida Power Pool State Defense Council.
CURTIS H. STANTON
Curtis H. Stanton was born in Key West, Florida. He graduated from the University of Florida in 1940 with a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering degree and was hired by the General Electric Company. He joined OUC in 1947 as Assistant General Manager, working for GM Martin Brown. Stanton, only 29 at the time, took the reins when Brown passed away.
Harry Luff had a distinguished 40-year career at Orlando Utilities Commission. With an engineering degree from Brown University, Luff began his tenure at OUC in 1946 at the bottom — chipping slag off the boilers. He worked numerous positions in the plant where his ability to effectively analyze problems caused management to take notice.
Although OUC conducted a nationwide search in 1984 for a new assistant general manager, they found their candidate right in their own backyard: Sanford native Theodore “Ted” Pope. A University of Florida graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Engineering and a Master of Business Administration, Pope had joined OUC in 1959 as part of the IRP team.
Troy Todd, a graduate of Virginia Polytechnical Institute, came to OUC from United Telephone (Sprint) where he was the CEO and former Vice President of Human Resources. A champion of “giving back,” Todd increased OUC’s involvement in the community. Under his leadership, OUC created the Community Relations area and organized “Community Crews.”
Bob Haven came to OUC on July 1, 1994 and passed away while in office in 2004. He brought with him decades of water industry and city government experience. A graduate of George Washington University, Haven arrived in Orlando in August 1981 as Central Florida was experiencing tremendous growth.
Ken Ksionek was named interim General Manager after the death of Bob Haven and given the permanent position October 12, 2004. Ksionek had served as Vice President of OUC’s Energy Delivery Business Unit from 1995 to 2004 — managing the engineering, construction, maintenance and operation of OUC’s electric distribution systems.
1923 - 1936
Martin W. Brown
1936 - 1947
Curtis H. Stanton
1947 - 1983
1983 - 1986
1986 - 1992
1992 - 1994
1994 - 2004
2004 - Present
During the Great Depression, the federal government provided funds to help OUC install underground electric feeder lines. Completed in 1934, this project generated 250 jobs at a time when work was virtually impossible to find. That year, OUC offered the lowest residential electric rates in Florida; in fact, the utility actually reduced electric rates from 8 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) to 6 cents per kWh in 1934.
Throughout the ‘30s, OUC promoted the cost-saving benefits of using electricity with the slogan “Cook Electrically and Save Money”— even offering 120 electric ranges for just 5 cents per month, added to a customer’s bill. OUC not only installed the stoves, but also maintained them free of charge.
In 1936, OUC relocated its offices from City Hall to its new office building at Wall and Main streets in downtown Orlando across the street from the Southern Bell Telephone Company Building and the Orange County Court House. The first floor was occupied by the cashier, sales and contract department, credit department, reception room and Offices of the General Manager and Assistant General Manager.
A year later, OUC defended and won its legal authority to add the equipment and infrastructure necessary to provide reliable electric and water service to its customers without approval from the Orlando City Council. In the 1937 Evans case, OUC got the go-ahead to spend $645,000 to build a new turbine at the Lake Ivanhoe Plant.
The late 1930s saw the addition of another elevated water storage tank on Rugby Street in College Park and a second Lake Ivanhoe power plant addition that brought OUC’s total generation capacity to 19 MW.
In 1936, Martin W. Brown, who began his career as the utility’s first plant engineer, was promoted to General Manager. The following year, the Commission formally adopted a policy of keeping the people fully informed about utility operations and “Where the Money Goes” to benefit the taxpayers and the citizens of Orlando. This included the publishing of annual reports and informational bulletins on various subjects of interest to OUC’s citizen-owners
OUC Charter Drafted,
First Meeting Held
Drafted by local attorney J. Thomas Gurney, the Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC) charter created a five-member Commission. Four citizens of Orlando were named to serve as Commissioners along with the Mayor of Orlando, who was automatically an ex-officio member of the board. These individuals were to serve without pay and be appointed for staggered four-year terms. They could serve second terms if re-nominated by the Commission. The Commission was designed to function as a Board of Directors of a corporation. The individuals who framed the OUC charter took every possible precaution to set up the Commission in a manner that would effectively eliminate political pressure and influence.
The first official meeting of the newly formed Orlando Utilities Commission occurred on June 25, 1923 at 10:30 a.m. in the board room of the First National Bank. City Attorney W.B. Crawford asked each member of the Commission to draw a ticket, sight unseen, which established their term of office each new commissioner would hold. The results were: Judge W.T. Bland, one year; J.F. Ange, two years; L.C. Massey, three years; H.H. Dickson and H.L. Beeman, each four years. It was moved by Ange, and seconded by Massey that the Honorable W.T. Bland be elected President of the Commission for the ensuing year.
In the early years, OUC had to spend time and energy to educate customers about the advantage of electricity and promote the use of electric appliances in the home.
Providing Safe, High-Quality Drinking Water
Orlando Utilities Commission was established on the principle of providing safe, high-quality water to its customers. The water system facilities owned and operated by the newly formed OUC were described in detail in an October 13, 1930 newspaper article titled “Orlando Utilities: A Great Success.” The following excerpt is from that article and illustrates OUC’s commitment to providing the highest quality water for its customers.
The OUC water pumping process — from low-lift pumps to aerators to settling basins to the high-lift pumps that carried water to the City mains
America entered the Second World War after the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. As our country fought for freedom on the battlegrounds of Europe and the Pacific, OUC helped on the homefront — keeping the power on and the water flowing for the citizens of Orlando. And that wasn’t always easy. According to Orlando: A Centennial History, in June of 1942, street lights were cut off “when the city faced an acute power shortage due to lack of oil. Merchants were asked to cut air conditioning and display lights, and municipal lights were discontinued, with the exception of traffic signals."
Throughout some of the darkest years in this nation’s history, OUC set the stage for what would become a legacy of community service — opening its doors to the American Red Cross, which set up a surgical dressing unit on the third floor of OUC’s office building. One of the first such units in the war effort, it served as the state’s training headquarters for surgical instructors. More than 250,000 dressings were made at OUC, representing 107,447 hours of volunteer effort.
During the war, the economies of Orlando and other Florida cities were able to rebound from the Depression, as defense contracts created jobs. The state’s citrus industry also began to thrive, fueling growth throughout Central Florida.
To keep pace, OUC embarked mid-decade on a major expansion of the water treatment and electric generation facilities. The new Lake Highland Plant, containing both electric generation and water treatment equipment, would be built west of Lake Highland, south of the railroad tracks, directly across from the existing plant. OUC also constructed a new water main system that replaced many of the original mains that were installed beginning in 1886. A 20-inch main was laid from the plant on Lake Ivanhoe down Orange Avenue to Lake Lucerne. Up to this point, the largest water main in the City’s chief artery was 10 inches in diameter.
With the addition of new infrastructure came the need for a centralized service operations area. In 1942, OUC built the 38,900-square-foot Lake Highland Service Yard, which accommodated the new warehouse, meter rooms, paint shop, truck sheds and operations offices. The Yard was constructed on the north shore of Lake Highland, on a private rail siding, adjacent to the Lake Ivanhoe Plant.
Forecasting Funding and Growth
During the early 1940s, OUC began what would become a tradition of prudent financial planning and customer demand forecasting. In 1942, the utility created cash reserves to pay for a $5 million plant and property expansion program based on a study that looked at future population and potential consumer requirements. The plan included increasing generating capacity by installing a new steam turbine generator at the Lake Highland property.
Projecting the need for an increase in water supply capacity of about 150 percent, the plan also suggested the addition of concrete and cast-iron pipes and tubular tunnels to connect Lakes Underhill, Highland, Ivanhoe, Big Fairview and Little Fairview.
Potential Electric and Water Plant in Windermere
In 1944, faced with growing demand for electricity and water, OUC purchased 65 acres of land on the southwestern part of town as sites for a new power plant and water treatment facility. The two parcels of property were strategically located on Lake Down in Windermere, Florida. OUC also began purchasing right-of-way for transmission lines and water mains to tie into OUC’s existing system.
However, because residents opposed using the lake as a source of drinking water, plans for the water plant were abandoned and the land was sold in 1964. The power plant site was retained for potential future purposes and renamed Camp Down.
In 1947, OUC hired Curtis H. Stanton as Assistant General Manager
Curtis H. Stanton was born in Key West, Florida. He graduated from the University of Florida in 1940 with a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering degree and was hired by the General Electric Company in Schenectady, New York. He joined Orlando Utilities Commission in 1947 as Assistant General Manager, working for GM Martin Brown. Shortly thereafter, Brown passed away, and Stanton took the reins. He was just 29. Heavily recruited by the OUC board from General Electric, Stanton had already developed a reputation as someone who knew how to get things done.He was the perfect person to lead a small utility facing rampant growth.
One of his first duties was the construction of the Lake Highland Plant, a power and water plant that
would come online in 1949. The Indian River Plant in Brevard County followed more than a decade later in 1960.
Stanton remained at the helm of OUC for 35 years, turning the local utility into a powerful player in the electric and water utility industry. A trailblazer whose relationship-building skills enabled him to forge valuable partnerships with organizations both large and small, Stanton was instrumental in forming entities like the Florida Electric Power Coordinating Group (FCG) that benefited not only citizens of Orlando, but people throughout Florida as well. Under his leadership, OUC’s water system was upgraded from surface water to well water, and coal and nuclear power were added to the generation portfolio.
Stanton once said, "In all my years of experience, I can tell you there is nothing louder than a silent power plant."
As a result during his tenure, he made sure that OUC power plants were built with the best available technologyat the time of construction and were among the most efficiently run generation units in the country.
Stanton was active in the local community, as well as in national water and electric trade associations. As president of the American Water Works Association, he represented that group on a visit to President Jimmy Carter in the White House in 1979. He also served as the president of the Orlando Chamber of Commerce and was awarded the prestigious John Young Award from Junior Achievement for distinguishing himself in his field and bringing national acclaim and public notice to Orlando.
In the post-war 1940s, America experienced rapid industrial and urban growth, which resulted in the pollution of lakes, rivers and streams. This prompted Congress to enact the first major legislation in the country’s history (the Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1948) to “enhance the quality and value of our water resources and to establish a national policy for the prevention, control and abatement of water pollution.” Later known as the Clean Water Act, this was seen as the beginning of government regulation of both the water and energy industries. In 1949, OUC completed the new Lake Highland Plant. For its time, the power plant was considered to be a modern, high-pressure facility, having a capacity of 25,000 kW. When combined with the existing 19,000 kW, the plant’s total generation capacity grew to 44,000 kW. OUC made adequate provisions, so that additional units could be added at minimum cost, as Orlando grew and demand for electrical energy increased.
The new Lake Highland water treatment plant had a rated capacity of 16 MGD and featured highly sophisticated equipment capable of treating raw water, which by 1949 was being withdrawn from Lakes Highland, Ivanhoe, Concord, Adair and Underhill. The surface water was used for treatment in the water plant, as well as to cool the electric plant.
As the decade drew to a close, OUC — having weathered the nation’s economic collapse, the Great Depression and World War II — was poised to enter a period of rapid growth and change, fueled by a burgeoning population and driven by Space Age technology.