- Air Pollution Control Act of 1955 is enacted.
- OUC employee newsletter, the Spark & Splash, debuts.
- OUC files a request with the Atomic Energy Commission to join a study of the possibilities of using nuclear-powered generators.
- Glenn L. Martin Company decides to build missile facility in southwest Orlando.
- OUC switches from surface water to well water from Floridan Aquifer.
- Additions to the Lake Highland Plant go into operation.
- Indian River Plant goes online.
- Clean Air Act of 1963 is enacted.
- 230,000-volt tie “interconnects” OUC and FPL.
- Indian River Plant, Unit 2 is completed.
- OUC begins burying power lines and replacing overhead lines with underground ones, along Colonial Drive, west to Texas Avenue.
- OUC installs first data processing system, the IBM-360.
- OUC develops Handbook, formalizing employee policies.
- Interstate 4 opens in Orlando, providing access to new areas of development in the nothern and southern regions of Orange County.
- Air Quality Act of 1967 is enacted.
- OUC opens new Administration Building and Customer Service Center.
OUC Sets Sights on Technology, Reliability
Following World War II, Florida was recognized as the last of the Eastern frontier states. By 1950, as Orlando’s population swelled to 51,826 (officially becoming a “metropolitan area”), the City had become the region’s financial, retail and transportation hub. Office buildings and shopping centers were built to support business and residential growth. As America raced to the moon, OUC began to focus on new types of fuel and sources of water. The new Orlando Army Air Base and the arrival of the Glenn L. Martin Company in 1956 also put Central Florida on the map as a center for military research and production. As demand rose, OUC began a tradition of focusing on reliability and investing in new technology.
OUC always understood the importance of reliability — but during the 1950s, the utility aggressively took this commitment to the next level, investing in new technology that would set standards for the future.
For example, OUC was one of the first utilities in the state to use static shield wire to protect its distribution system against lightning strikes — a cause of frequent power outages. Although shield wire was commonly used for this purpose on transmission lines, its application on the distribution system was limited. After an OUC study showed the process to be effective, it became standard design throughout the OUC system — improving reliability in “the lightning capital of the United States.”
Commitment to Facilitating Growth
The Glenn L. Martin Company
In 1956, when the Glenn L. Martin Company decided to locate a large missile facility in southwest Orlando, OUC worked to provide the infrastructure needed to support the addition of this new company to our community.
“We found out where the Glenn Martin Company was going to locate about a week before it was publically announced. In those days, whoever had lines closest served the customer. So we got around there close enough. We also had the advantage of providing water in addition to electricity, which was a big plus for Martin. We agreed to build them a separate water plant, because they were too far away from our water lines. And we actually dug wells and put in a small water treatment plant.”
- Curt Stanton
OUC General Manager at the time
The Martin facility, which would eventually employ thousands of people to manufacture missiles and other hardware for the U.S. military, became a major player in the growth that occurred in southwest Orange County during the 1950s and 1960s. The defense plant itself occupied hundreds of acres of land, and the company also purchased thousands
of additional acres in southwest Orange County, which were developed into large commercial and industrial tracts, such as Orlando Central Park.
“We were serving Martin initially with 12 kV (12,000 volts). It was coming all the way from the Lake Highland Plant. Boy, that is a long haul for that kind of load for one circuit. So that’s why there was this impetus for us to immediately go out there with 115 kV and put in a substation.”
- Lou Stone
Plant Engineer at the time
In tandem with the construction of the defense plant and the other properties, large residential neighborhoods also sprung up. The new OUC Martin Plant provided water supply for the new defense facility and the ancillary developments that accompanied it.
During this time, the Pine Hills area, located eight miles north of the defense plant, also began to undergo extensive residential and associated commercial development to accommodate many of the plant employees. To support this new growth area, OUC built the Pine Hills Water Plant in 1958 and installed distribution mains to deliver water to customers living in this unincorporated area of Orange County. Because the Martin Plant was located too far from existing lines, OUC built a dedicated water treatment plant to serve the facility and extended a 115 kilovolt (kV) line to provide electric service.
To provide a safe and reliable drinking water supply for its customers, OUC began in 1957 to switch from surface water to well water drawn from the Floridan Aquifer.
As demand increased, withdrawals from the lakes dropped water levels to unacceptable limits, especially during years when rainfall was very low. In addition, the quality of the raw water pumped from the lakes required extensive coagulation/filtration treatment, which was very costly.
This shift to groundwater meant that plants could be located anywhere in the service area, because wells could be drilled down to the aquifer at any location. Thus, water plants could be spread out, strategically located within the service area and interconnected by means of transmission pipes.
This new concept would provide OUC customers with an extremely reliable and operationally efficient water system. Water from the aquifer also offered other advantages: It was high quality compared to lake water, requiring less extensive and less costly treatment; and it was plentiful, eliminating the environmental and aesthetic problems that were caused when lakes began to be over-pumped beyond their sustainable yield.
In 1957, OUC presented the City of Orlando with the Lake Eola fountain. Originally the idea of Linton E. Allen, then President of the First National Bank (now SunTrust), the City landmark was first called the “Centennial Fountain” but was renamed the “Linton E. Allen Memorial Fountain” after the community leader’s death.
Living Better... Electrically
As part of a national campaign launched by the electric industry, OUC participated in the Gold Medallion Home program, which touted the built-in advantages of “living better electrically.” Dwellings that were awarded this seal used “low-cost electricity” exclusively for “winter heat, summer cooling, year-round cooking and water-heating, as well as for light and power.”
Larger, More Efficient
Lake Highland Units Come Online
In 1958 — after the larger, more efficient Lake Highland Plant went into operation and the Lake Ivanhoe Plant was taken offline — the OUC electric system grew rapidly. In just one year, load increased 25 percent. In fact, OUC was expanding so quickly that its engineering firm recommended installing two gas turbines, in addition to the existing steam units, at the Lake Highland Plant to be used for
peaking service. At the time of their installation, these units were the largest peaking gas turbines in the world. General Manager Curt Stanton and Plant Engineer Harry Luff co-authored a technical paper on operation and maintenance of these turbines, which was presented to the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Gas Turbine Conference in 1961.
OUC Conducts First Long-Range Planning Study
As OUC’s service territory continued to expand, the utility undertook the first long-range planning study of its electric system with outside engineering firm Black and Veatch to evaluate the system and establish a plan for facilitating growth.
To increase system reliability, Black and Veatch recommended that OUC establish interconnections with other power systems, select a site for a new power plant and install a new generating unit. The study also revealed the need for new substations and 115 kV transmission lines that would loop around Orlando. All recommendations were approved by the Commission.
In 1961, the high-voltage transmission loop around the Orlando area was completed — placing OUC in a strong position to add more interconnections with other power systems. And in 1964, OUC began burying power lines and replacing overhead lines with underground utilities along Colonial Drive west to Texas Avenue.
The 1960s saw advancements in transmitting and pooling electricity. Load dispatchers used the economic loading slide rule, which was the first analog computer at OUC. This helped them determine which units were the most “economical” to run during certain periods of time, based on factors like fuel cost and transmission availability.
Utilities stood on their own and had to have enough backup generation to cover the loss of units. For that reason, interconnections provided OUC the ability to connect with other utilities and back each other up.
Interconnections were established with Florida Power Corporation in Orlando and later with Florida Power & Light (FPL) on the East Coast near the new plant site on the Indian River.
At 2:46 p.m. on October 15, 1963, a 230,000-volt tie between OUC and FPL was energized at the Commission’s Indian River Plant by Curt Stanton, Executive Vice President and GM of OUC, and Alan Wright, Vice President of FPL. “The energizing of this tie represents the completion of another phase of the Orlando Utilities’ overall expansion program to strengthen and increase the capability of its expanding system,” Stanton said. “This new tie offers a further source of supply of energy in the event of power failure and increases the total tie capacity to 350,000 kW.”
-(Orlando Sentinel, October 16, 1963)
In 1960, a new generating plant was designed and constructed in Brevard County along the Indian River. Aptly named the Indian River Plant (IRP), this oil- and gas-fired unit was more than twice the size of the largest unit at the Lake Highland Plant.
The switch connecting IRP to OUC’s electric system was closed for the first time at 11:53 p.m. on February 20, 1960. One thousand people braved bad weather to attend the dedication of the new plant, located halfway between Titusville and Cocoa. Built at a cost of $16 million, IRP was reported to have been the largest single project money-wise in OUC history (OUC Today, Indian River Anniversary Issue, Vol. XXI, No. 1, 1985).
When IRP opened, local media hailed it as a marvel of efficiency and modern technology. With a nameplate rating of 78.5 MW and the capability to produce more than 90 MW under peak load conditions, its generators would power growth in the area — producing energy at a cost of two cents per kilowatt hour, the lowest price in the history of the utility, clearly supporting OUC Today’s slogan at the time: “Working to keep electricity your B.E.S.T. value!”
The plant’s location along the Indian River provided two strategic advantages: an unlimited supply of cooling water for the steam condensers and water transportation for fuel oil deliveries from nearby Port Canaveral.
That milestone — the first barge delivery of oil via Port Canaveral — occurred four years later after the completion of the 205-MW Unit 2 at IRP.
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
OUC Helps Support City Services
In 1966, OUC transferred $4.18 million to the City of Orlando, which amounted to more than 50 percent of the City’s operating budget. Power and water contributions helped provide police and fire protection, sewerage and
sanitary facilities, street paving, cleaning and lighting, parks and playgrounds, traffic engineering, airport operation, health department services and many more community services.
Mapping a System of Pipes, Power Lines, Plants and Substations
One of the most significant accomplishments of the late 1960s was the improvement of OUC’s electric mapping system. Up to that time, most of the feeder circuits and electrical switching capabilities had resided in the minds of a few people and hard copies of maps. But, as OUC grew, better documentation was needed. This process, however, did not come easily. It needed not only the appropriate technology, but also required that people change longstanding habits.
The mapping system process was continually upgraded and improved as time and technology advanced to the point where even field personnel have access to mapping and switching procedures via portable computers.
In the ‘50s and ‘60s, the federal government enacted environmental legislation that would have a lasting effect on public utilities.
The Air Pollution Control Act of 1955 — the first federal legislation involving air pollution — funded research for scope and sources of air pollution.
The Clean Air Act of 1963 was the first federal legislation regarding air pollution control. It authorized the development of a national program to address air pollution-related environmental problems and authorized research into techniques to minimize air pollution.
The Air Quality Act of 1967 authorized enforcement procedures for air pollution problems involving interstate transport of pollutants and authorized expanded research activities.
OUC Water Department Chosen Best in State
In 1968, the Florida State Board of Health chose OUC’s water department as the best large-city operation in the state for the previous three years. After inspecting private and municipal facilities serving areas with populations of more than 25,000, the state board of field sanitary engineers judged the Orlando plant tops in product quality, employee professionalism, preventive maintenance, safety, cleanliness and emergency planning.
On April 18, 1968, OUC opened its new, eight-story, $3 million Administration Building and Customer Service Center at the corner of Orange Avenue and Anderson Street. The new facility, which would serve as OUC’s home in downtown Orlando for the next 40 years, housed all of the Commission’s administrative personnel, as well as business and accounting divisions.
According to Curtis H. Stanton, OUC Executive Vice President and General Manager, “The new Administration Building will give the Commission a greater operational capacity, a needed capacity with the advent of Disney World, Florida Technological University and the new Naval Training Center. These additions to our economy will put increasing demands upon OUC to supply efficient, low-cost electric and water services to a wide variety of new industries, businesses, public institutions and residential areas.”
Information Technology: From Spiral Notebooks to Mainframes
Logging information into spiral notebooks was standard procedure when OUC first began operations in 1923. In 1966, that all changed, as the utility installed the first stage of its new $600,000 data processing system. The basic units of the new system, the IBM-360, were installed on the seventh floor of City Hall until the Commission’s new building was complete.
B.L. Cording, OUC data processing division director, told the Orlando Morning Sentinel that “the IBM-360 is a vast, powerful system that will simplify OUC’s programming effort and will allow maximum utilization of equipment and provide continuous availability of necessary information.” -(Orlando Sentinel, 1966)