- OUC adds its largest customer, Universal Studios® Florida, which later became Universal Orlando® Resort.
- PROUD Community Volunteer program launches.
- Sky Lake Water Plant opens.
- Original Lake Ivanhoe Plant reborn as the Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center.
- Stanton Energy Center Unit 2 comes online.
- Gold Ring Home program begins.
- OUC and St. Cloud enter 25-year Interlocal Agreement.
- Southwest Water Plant opens.
- OUC begins construction on first chilled water plant.
- OUC celebrates 75th anniversary.
- OUC becomes The Reliable One.
- OUC begins burning methane gas from Orange County landfill.
- Indian River steam units sold.
- OUConvenient Lighting and OUConsumption launch.
- OUC receives “Outstanding Distribution Award and Water Conservation Award for Excellence” from AWWA.
- OUC receives AWWA Award for best drinking water.
- SEC A goes commercial.
- Three hurricanes hit Central Florida.
- OUC gets 20-year Consumptive Use Permit.
- Reliable Plaza, “The Greenest Building in Downtown Orlando” opens.
- OUC and Orange County flip the switch on a 1-MW solar array at Orange County Convention Center.
- SEC B comes online in February.
- POWER and Green Neighborhood programs begin.
From 1990 to 2010, the economy experienced a period of ups and downs and twists and turns that rivaled the roller coasters OUC would power. Central Florida was particularly affected— and the turbulence made forecasting and planning a challenge, to say the least. High points — including the opening of Universal Studios® Florida, and a boom in residential and commercial construction — were followed by precipitous lows: back-to-back-to-back hurricanes, terrorist attacks on our nation, the bursting of the real-estate bubble and severe economic recession. But, through it all, one thing was certain: OUC’s strong financial foundation and steady hand allowed the utility to live up to its name.
Although economic conditions at home and the Persian Gulf crisis abroad clouded the dawn of the 1990s, long-term projections for Metro Orlando remained bright with the promise of continued growth. The region was often in the national spotlight, cited by numerous publications for having an excellent climate for business. As the decade progressed and the economy rebounded, advances in telecommunications and computer networking marked the advent of the “dot.com” era — and deregulation of the utility industry loomed.
In 1990, OUC added its largest customer, Universal Studios® Florida, which later became Universal Orlando® Resort. Over the next two decades, to support a booming population and diversify its portfolio, the utility would add more than 1,000 MW of generation. To meet the needs of OUC’s expanding customer base, two operations facilities — the Pershing and Gardenia Centers — were opened along with Reliable Plaza, a new customer service and administration building. OUC also focused on the region’s water needs with Water Project 2000, which was designed to upgrade and expand potable water systems by treating drinking water with ozone. By the turn of the century, OUC had taken proactive steps to prepare for competition, launching new profit centers such as OUCooling and OUConvenient Lighting.
In 1998, the utility celebrated its 75th anniversary — formalizing a commitment to provide the highest level of service to customers by making reliability part of its name. Orlando Utilities Commission became OUC — The Reliable One. That mantra has become a compass that not only guides operational decisions, but also reinforces OUC’s pledge to keep the power on and the water flowing . . . even in the face of Mother Nature’s most severe threats.
Keeping it Clean
In 1990, the last major changes to the Clean Air Act of 1970 were enacted — targeting urban air pollution problems such as acid rain, smog, carbon monoxide and particulate matter. The amendments encouraged, for the first time, the use of market-based principles and other innovative approaches (e.g. performance-based standards and emissions trading) to address environmental problems. OUC met the new requirements with ease: Its power plants were already operating at levels significantly lower than the limits in the Clean Air Act Amendments.
Sky Lake Water Plant Comes Online
In 1990, the Sky Lake Water Plant, OUC’s 10th water treatment plant, became operational to provide water to the southern part of the service territory. Rated at 24 MGD, Sky Lake was the second OUC plant to use the utility’s patented carbon/chlorine process instead of aeration to enhance taste and eliminate odor. The process was developed by OUC’s Ted Pope and Dick Dunham. Sky Lake came online just as Water Operations surpassed the 100,000 active meters mark.
In 1991, OUC completed the most extensive five-year program in its history to improve and expand its transmission and distribution (T&D) system — adding nearly $200 million in new or upgraded T&D facilities and equipment. In that time, the utility increased its primary circuit miles 27 percent to 1,246 miles and grew its capacity 23 percent to 1.8 million kV.
But those statistics tell only half the story. They do not reflect the magnitude of the ongoing process of upgrading or replacing older infrastructure, modernizing or relocating equipment because of street and highway projects, and streetscaping projects that required undergrounding power lines, as well as enhancing and improving overhead systems. In 1991 alone, OUC upgraded underground systems in 10 older subdivisions to improve reliability. Ten new distribution feeder circuits were installed, the highest number in one year in OUC history.
The system would eventually be expanded to include 29 substations, 338 circuit miles of transmission and 1,884 circuit miles of distribution, more than 60 percent of which is underground.
Troy Todd: "Champion of Community Outreach"
General Manager (1992-1994)
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 employee “Community Crews” volunteer involvement efforts.
Todd was passionate about transparency. During his tenure, OUC enhanced internal audit policies and instituted stricter ethics and purchasing policies to improve accountability and transparency. General Manager Bob Haven said of his predecessor, “Troy Todd will be remembered and appreciated for his leadership in launching initiatives that helped OUC remain competitive and in helping defeat an attempt to freeze municipal electric utilities’ service territories.”
A Technology Tsunami
The tidal wave of technology advancements that characterized the 1990s swept through OUC, too, as the utility “tooled up for tomorrow.”
To run the electric and water systems reliably, safely and efficiently, OUC used its own microwave Information Highway, touching almost every facet of its operations — people, plants, power lines, pipelines, substations, mobile radios, phones, faxes, computers, machines and remote terminal units.
OUC began “right-sizing” computer operations, developing PC-based systems and software to replace the existing
mainframe system first installed in the 1960s. During this period, the utility developed a new Customer Information Reporting and Tracking System (CIMART) to meet billing needs for 225,000 customer accounts. OUC also provided certain billing services for the city, county and state that would benefit from the new system. CIMART provided summary billing, direct debits and remote meter reading.
A similar program called Project Estimating and Scheduling (PETS) was utilized for capital improvement and construction projects.
PROUD to Serve
To encourage employees to “pay their civic dues,” OUC launched its PROUD Community Volunteer program in 1990. In addition to recognizing employees for volunteer efforts, the program provided $2 for every hour donated to an eligible non-profit organization up to $200. More than $2,000 was donated to community organizations. In just two years after the program began, employee participation in volunteer activities doubled.
In 1992, OUC opened the Pershing Operations Center to serve the east part of town. Its counterpart on the west side, the Gardenia Center, opened one year later. Both facilities were built to replace the small, antiquated water and electric operations/maintenance facilities located on the north side of Lake Highland. Costing a combined $37 million, they were constructed to meet OUC’s space needs for up to 20 years.
The 48-acre Pershing complex contained OUC’s computer “nerve centers” for electric and water systems, all 24-hour operations except at power plants, fleet service facilities and the utility’s third customer service center (including drive-through lanes). The 22-acre Gardenia Operations Center was completed in the fall of 1993 and housed OUC’s Water Quality Lab, internal audit, warehouse, fleet, water distribution, revenue protection, water and meter testing, and security.
Combustion Turbines Added to Indian River Plant
In November 1992, OUC added a pair of combustion turbine units at the Indian River Plant (IRP). With three steam generating units and two small 35-MW combustion turbine units in place since 1989, IRP represented 57 percent of OUC’s total generating capacity. All IRP units operated on either oil or natural gas, a flexibility that enabled the utility to take advantage of market conditions and buy fuel cheaper than other utilities. IRP was also valuable to OUC as a source of substantial revenue from bulk power sales.
Charged up about using energy wisely
and reducing harmful auto emissions, OUC tested its first electric- powered
vehicles in 1993 — taking its
conservation program “on the
road” in a minivan outfitted with
rooftop solar panels.
Putting Reliability to the Test
Helping Victims of Hurricane Andrew. During the 1990s, Mother Nature was on the warpath. In the summer of 1992, Hurricane Andrew — one of the deadliest, costliest and most devastating storms in U.S. history — ravaged South Florida. In the face of that emergency, OUC and its employees responded quickly. Within two days, volunteers had filled 10,000 one-gallon bottles of pure OUC water and sent them to the disaster area. A week later, nearly 60 linemen, engineers and other workers were dispatched south to help the City of Homestead rebuild its electric system.
The Storm of the Century. In March 1993, a rare, severe wind storm struck much of Florida. Blasting Orlando with 62-mile-per-hour winds at 12:30 a.m., Saturday, March 13, the “Storm of the Century” brought 18 hours of
near-hurricane strength gusts, causing outages as fast as OUC employees restored service. Nearly 30,000 customers lost power, but by midday Sunday, service was fully restored.
Swift Response to Erin’s Fury. In the early morning hours of August 2, 1995, Hurricane Erin roared through Florida, creating a level of service interruption that eclipsed both the Christmas freeze of 1989 and the 1993 “Storm of the Century.” While no damage was done to any OUC generation or transmission facilities, Erin’s 90-mph winds knocked out power to 37 main distribution feeders — and 52,500 OUC customers experienced some interruption in service in the wake of the storm. Erin’s impact was greater than the total average outage time experienced in the previous four years.
Fueling Growth: OUC Expands Service Area to Include Lake Nona
In 1994 and 1995, OUC expanded its water and electric service area to include the new Lake Nona community. The area located southeast of the Orlando International Airport was slated to become a major center for economic development in the region.
In 1994, OUC and Orange County signed a new 25-year territorial agreement for a 30-square-mile area at Lake Nona. Then in 1995, OUC and Florida Power Corp. signed a new 10-year territorial agreement that expanded the electric service area by about 20 square miles. Initially, the impact was small — adding just 73 new water customers and 287 electric customers. However, the potential was tremendous, and the gamble wound up paying off. As a result of the agreement, OUC gained a community that would become home to a Medical City housing the University of Central Florida Medical School, Burnham Institute, Veterans Hospital and Nemours Children’s Hospital.
OUC’s reputation was critical to the City of Orlando’s ability to attract new businesses, such as those in Lake Nona, to the community. Then Orlando Mayor Glenda E. Hood said, “As Orlando continues to compete both domestically and internationally for business, a strong, financially sound and well-positioned utility is vital for economic development. You cannot have growth without a utility that can provide reliable electricity, quality water and competitive rates to attract industry and encourage residential development.”
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
About 5,000 visitors came to SEC for the Unit 2 dedication. The three-day celebration included a public open house that drew 3,500; a train ride for nearly 100 civic and politial leaders; a “power breakfast” for 300 civic, industry, and electric utility leaders; and a picnic for more than 1,000 employees and family members.
Stanton Energy Center Unit 2 Comes Online in 1996
The Curtis H. Stanton Energy Center Unit 2 began commercial operation on June 1, 1996, on time and $62 million under the original budget of $522 million. At 425 MW, it was the first pulverized coal unit of its size in the nation to use Selective Catalytic Reduction to remove nitrogen oxide from the flue gas — meeting and exceeding all federal regulations for air quality.
Like the first unit, Stanton 2 was jointly owned. As majority owner/operator, OUC retained 72 percent of Unit 2. The Florida Municipal Power Agency owned 28 percent on behalf of the following cities: Bushnell, Clewiston, Fort Pierce, Green Cove Springs, Homestead, Jacksonville Beach, Key West, Kissimmee, Ocala, Leesburg, Starke, St. Cloud and Vero Beach.
A Safe Work Environment
Employing about 5,600 people on site during 39 months of construction, Stanton 2 was one of the safest such construction projects in the nation, earning the STAR award from the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OUC’s aggressive safety program saved about $10 million in insurance premiums.
A Commitment to Maximizing Participation and Diversity
From the onset, the Stanton 2 Project Team was committed to maximizing Central Florida participation and ensuring a diverse workforce. The team established a proactive multi-faceted M/WBE outreach program with a full-time coordinator hired to run the program. The project achieved its objectives with approximately 70 percent of the craft workforce coming from the Central
Florida region, and 30 percent minorities and women. In addition, 37 percent of the more than $60 million in subcontracts, supplies and permanent plant material was awarded to minority and women-owned business enterprises. The M/WBE participation was accomplished without goals but rather by proactive contractor commitments and by OUC hosting M/WBE forums during the bidding stages.
To leave a lasting legacy, a Community Service Council comprising representatives from OUC, Black & Veatch and project contractors undertook a variety of volunteer community projects, including the renovation of an American Red Cross Disaster Relief trailer and construction of a park for the Metropolitan Orlando Urban League.
For OUC’s Water Business Unit, Water Project 2000 was the story of the century. The most comprehensive effort to expand and modernize the water system infrastructure in OUC’s history called for closing five outdated water plants — Martin, Dr. Phillips, Kuhl, Primrose and Lake Highland — in favor of building three larger plants and converting four existing plants to the ozone treatment process. As part of the effort, OUC built a new Lake Highland plant, as well as the Southeast and Southwest plants, and converted Conway, Kirkman, Sky Lake and Pine Hills to ozone. The new operation converted the system to an ozone water treatment process, which significantly reduced the amount of chlorine used in treatment and completely removed hydrogen sulfide — a harmless, naturally occurring compound that gives water an unpleasant taste and odor. The program also expanded and improved pipelines and modernized the computer control system so that all water plants could be operated remotely.
Largely conceived by General Manager and CEO Bob Haven, Water Project 2000 was the largest capital program, in terms of scope and investment, ever undertaken by the Commission to replace and upgrade water infrastructure. The monies budgeted for the endeavor totaled $164.3 million and required five 10 percent water rate increases over a five-year period. The entire program was aggressively scheduled to be completed in five years between 1995 and 2000, which enabled all OUC water customers to enjoy the benefits as soon as possible, and at about the same time.
Delivering H2OUC to the Tap
OUC’s first ozone treatment plant began operation in the spring of 1997, delivering a new “product” called H2OUC — ozone-treated water that tasted as good or better than bottled water but cost much less. The new $30 million Southwest plant had a capacity of 30 MGD and replaced two older, less reliable plants: Martin and Dr. Phillips. Although ozone had long been used for water
treatment, OUC took the technology to a new level. It was the first utility to master control of the sophisticated ozone water treatment system from a remote facility with no full-time staff at the plant. An innovative partnership with the Florida DEP and installing a highly sophisticated computer-based control system as part of Water Project 2000 made this possible.
Bob Haven: “Water Industry Visionary”
General Manager (1994-2004)
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. During his tenure at the City of Orlando, he undertook some of the City’s largest projects, first as Director of Public Works and then as Chief Administrative Officer. He was the leading force behind the Orlando Arena, a major renovation of the Citrus Bowl, Lake Eola improvements, the new City Hall, Conserv I and Conserv II, and other projects estimated to cost $1 billion.
Haven was passionate about providing the highest quality water. At OUC, he spearheaded the most extensive water system upgrade in the utility’s history. Water Project 2000 mapped out a plan
to convert OUC’s water treatment to ozone, the strongest disinfectant available. The new water product was well received by customers and branded H2OUC — “great tasting water straight from the tap.”
Haven maintained OUC’s commitment to electric reliability — and under his management, the utility branded itself “OUC — The Reliable One.” The tagline is still used today, reinforcing the commitment to providing customers with the highest level of reliability. Under Haven’s leadership, OUC’s electric reliability was recognized as the best in the Southeastern U.S.
Dogged in his pursuit of adding new customer programs that met the needs of large commercial customers and developers, Haven led the creation of OUCooling, a chilled water business, and OUConvenient Lighting, a commercial lighting program. While he was at the helm, the utility also expanded its operation to include the City of St. Cloud in Osceola County, adding 150 square miles to OUC’s service territory.
Haven passed away on February 29, 2004. Before his death, he led the efforts to negotiate a 20-year Consumptive Use Permit agreement among OUC, Orange County and the St. Johns and South Florida Water Management Districts. “Bob’s water-industry expertise and tireless commitment laid the foundation for this crucial step in regional cooperation,” said OUC Commission Board President Tommy Boroughs. “Bob would be very pleased.”
In a precedent-setting move, OUC entered into a 25-year Interlocal Agreement with its neighbor, the City of St. Cloud, to manage, operate and maintain the City’s electric system. The agreement, which became effective May 1, 1997, was the first of its kind in the state.
With vast tracts of undeveloped land, St. Cloud understood that it was on the threshold of tremendous growth — but that it would take an investment in infrastructure and competitive rates to realize that potential. With that in mind, St. Cloud looked to OUC, with its long record of outstanding service and affordable rates. The two entered a long-term agreement, identifying five areas that would serve as the foundation for their partnership moving forward:
- Reliability: OUC promised to make significant improvements in the reliability of electric service.
- Rates: OUC promised to lower the electric rates of St. Cloud customers.
- Retention: OUC agreed to hire the St. Cloud utility employees.
- Return: OUC agreed to provide regular payments to the City of St. Cloud based on revenue growth.
- Representation: Both partners formed a contract committee to oversee the long-term agreement.
Over the years, OUC kept its promises, continuing to provide clean, affordable, reliable power to St. Cloud and serving as a community partner to help make the City strong and prosperous.
A new business venture that generated additional revenues, OUCooling brought its first central chiller plant online in 1997. The 6,600-ton-capacity facility was built for Lockheed Martin’s Electronics & Missiles Company and served 11 buildings on the 300-acre complex.
In February of 1998, OUCooling began the operation of its first downtown facility. The plant was the first step in the creation of a downtown loop that would circulate chilled water through underground pipes — eventually serving OUC’s administration building, City Hall, CNL Center, Lincoln Tower and the Amway Center.
OUCooling signed a 20-year contract to pump chilled water for the air conditioning at the Orange County
Convention Center, one of the nation’s largest and fastest-growing convention complexes. Under the agreement, OUC took over the Convention Center’s existing chillers, linking them to the OUCooling plant at nearby Lockheed Martin and saving Orange County about $10 million by avoiding expansion.
Initially, OUC teamed up with Trigen-Cinergy Solutions to create the chilled water business, but the partnership ended in 2004.
In 2009, thanks in part to OUC’s efforts, chilled water qualified for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification points.
As of 2010, OUC had eight chiller plants, with a cooling capacity of about 50,000 tons.
OUC Sells Indian River Plant Steam Units, Diversifying the Generation Portfolio
Negotiating the sale of the Indian River Plant steam units in 1999 signaled an important new direction for OUC. By selling the steam units, but continuing to purchase their power, the facility generated additional cash to invest in newer, cleaner technology.
The transaction was the first in a series of strategic moves in an asset restructuring plan that called for diversifying the utility’s power resource portfolio and investing in more modern facilities.
With market deregulation looming in the future, OUC analyzed its power generation facilities and other assets to determine how best to use them over the short and long terms.
OUC sold the Indian River steam units to Reliant Energy for $205 million in cash, a four-year agreement to purchase power from the facility and an additional four-year power purchase option. OUC maintained ownership of the four combustion turbines at the plant.
Generating Electricity from Landfill Gas
On April 1, 1998, the Stanton Energy Center (SEC) began burning landfill gas from the Orange County landfill. One of the largest and longest-running efforts of its kind in the state, the OUC Landfill Project is an economical renewable source of energy that is also reliable and sustainable. Methane gas is captured from the landfill and piped to SEC where it is co-fired with coal. In addition to helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the landfill, the 12-MW green energy program displaces more than three percent of the fossil fuel required for SEC Units 1 and 2, and provides enough electricity every day for 10,000 homes. The gas from the landfill produces close to 100,000 megawatt hours of reduced-emissions power — offsetting about 44,000 tons of coal each year.
Looking to the future, OUC and Orange County have signed new agreements for future landfill projects — expanding capacity to 22 MW.
OUC Convenient Lighting
In the fall of 2000, OUC flipped the switch on OUConvenient Lighting, a new division established to provide complete outdoor lighting services for a wide spectrum of commercial applications — from industrial parks to sports complexes to residential developments.
The division was a natural fit, pairing OUC’s reputation for reliability with area businesses’ need to install and maintain street lights and exterior lighting on their properties. Under the program, OUC purchased, installed and maintained the lighting fixtures and lamps for a monthly service fee. With OUC’s efficient lighting solutions, customers could keep their electric and maintenance costs down.
As part of this new venture, the lighting division entered a 10-year contract with the City of Orlando to provide complete installation and maintenance of the Citrus Bowl’s field lighting — replacing the stadium’s old lights with higher output, energy efficient ones. The project increased the facilities brightness and reduced energy costs, while using only half as many fixtures.
OUC and Orange County Expand Partnership
OUC and Orange County expanded their partnership in 2011 with the completion of a new landfill gas-to-energy facility and five-mile pipeline that delivers the methane gas from the landfill to Stanton’s coal-fired generation units. At its peak, the facility is expected to provide enough fuel annually for 22 MW of electricity, or enough to power about 16,000 homes.
OUC became the title sponsor of the OUC Half Marathon & 5k in downtown Orlando in 1999, a tradition that would continue for the next decade. Putting its own twist on the race that first started in 1976, OUC tapped fire hydrants to provide runners with refreshing H2OUC.
Part of the Downtown Skyline
Over the decades, OUC has powered the City of Orlando and provided one of the few constants in the City’s oft-changing skyline. From 1968 until 2001, the four-sided lit Orlando Utilities sign atop the Administration Building stood like a beacon at the south end of Orange Avenue. It went dark only briefly in 1979 in recognition of the oil embargo.
In 2001, the original sign was replaced with a new neon blue and green OUC logo featuring a light bulb and faucet.
OUC would turn out the lights on the sign once more in 2005 as then-Governor Jeb Bush called for statewide conservation.
As OUC moved from the administration building to its new home in Reliable Plaza in 2008, the neon sign was removed from the old building, cleaned and renovated before being relocated to the new facility. In keeping with the energy and water efficiency of Reliable Plaza and OUC’s support of water conservation, the familiar droplet from the faucet was removed from the sign and the logo.
Orlando Welcomes New Millennium
With lasers and fireworks from Sydney, Australia, to Orlando’s Lake Eola, cities around the globe greeted the new millennium with a flash — but without so much as a flicker of their electric power grids. The rollover in the U.S. and Canada was monitored closely by the North American Electricity Reliability Council, which reported that no Y2K events affected electricity production, transmission or delivery.
At OUC, nearly 300 employees who were deployed to strategic locations stood by as the year 2000 began. All eyes were on critical power, water and information management systems, but none had problems adjusting to the date change. OUC’s success was attributed to thousands of hours of work over the prior 2.5 years, including the implementation of a Y2K initiative.
Fuel Diversity: Stanton A and B Natural Gas Generating Units Come Online
An important aspect of OUC’s generation asset restructuring plan was to invest in clean, modern technology that provided fuel diversity. The Stanton A and B units provide a combined 933 MWs of clean generation. Stanton A is a 633-MW, natural gas-fired combined-cycle unit with heat-recovery steam generators and a steam turbine, which went commercial on October 1, 2003. The efficient and environmentally advanced unit was a joint development project among OUC, Southern Company, the Florida Municipal Power Agency (FMPA) and Kissimmee Utility Authority (KUA). The unit was built north of the two existing coal units on 60 acres of the 3,280-acre Stanton Energy Center site.
OUC and partner Southern Company received a U.S. Department of Energy Grant for Clean Coal project in 2004. The grant was awarded to help build a $557 million, 285-MW advanced coal gasification facility at SEC as part of the department’s Clean Coal Power Initiative. The project was expected to break ground in 2007 and begin commercial operation in 2010; however, the gasification component was cancelled in 2007 due to environmental regulation uncertainty. OUC and Southern Company proceeded with the construction of a 300-MW combined-cycle natural gas plant. The unit came online in February 2010 and is owned and operated by OUC.
“The Reliable One” was benchmarked as the most reliable utility in the Southeast region in 2002, 2003, 2006 and 2007 and in the state every year from 2002-2009. Four times in the decade, PA Consulting Group recognized OUC as the winner of the Southeast region ReliabilityOneTM award, which is given annually to the utilities that have excelled in delivering reliable electric service to their customers.
Comparison of the Florida Public Service Commission’s utility data showed OUC’s performance well ahead of Florida’s four largest utilities in key measurements of overall electric reliability: LBar (average length of single service interruptions) and System Average Interruption Duration Index (SAIDI), the average number of outage minutes per year.
In addition, OUC’s generation units are among the most reliable in the nation. Generation reliability performance is measured by an Equivalent Forced Outage Rate (EFOR) that measures unplanned outages, not scheduled ones. In 2010, the national average for unplanned outages was about 8 percent; however, Stanton Energy Center’s coal-fired Units 1 and 2 averaged a remarkably low 1 percent. Solid preventive maintenance, including the use of 3-D (three-dimensional) imaging, helps identify potential problems before they arise.
Ken Ksionek: “Strong, Determined Leader”
General Manager (2004-present)
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. Ksionek, a graduate of the University of Wisconsin, joined OUC in 1985 as Director of Construction for the Stanton Energy Center Unit 1 and then became the Director of Capital Projects and Co-Project Manager of Stanton Unit 2 Construction. During his tenure as Vice President of Energy Delivery, OUC gained national prominence for its reliability.
Ksionek took over the General Manager and CEO position in what would become one of the most tumultuous years in OUC history. Having no time to prepare for the transition, he had to immediately deal with employees mourning the loss of a beloved leader and final negotiations on a 20-year water consumptive use permit. Testing the mettle of the new leader even further, Hurricane Charley pummeled Central Florida on Friday, August 13 — leaving 80 percent of OUC’s customers without power.
OUC had never experienced a storm of this magnitude — and for the first time had to ask other utilities for assistance.
Charley was followed weeks later by Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne. Through it all, Ksionek proved to be the right leader for the right time. His intimate knowledge of the electric system and the emergency preparedness plan allowed him to respond quickly.
Four years later, Ksionek would be tested yet again as he had to lead OUC through what has been labeled a national economic recession. The financial tsunami that followed required a steady hand as the utility faced volatile fuel markets and a local housing downturn that put a halt to customer growth. Through it all, Ksionek persevered and OUC fared well by effectively reducing expenses and improving operational efficiencies.
At the same time, the electric and water utility industries were once again facing potential increased regulation. The Florida Public Service Commission approved compliance goals that would require the state’s larger electric utilities to reduce energy consumption and increase customer education.
As typical of Ksionek, he not only wanted to meet the goals, but exceed them. As a result, OUC is well on its way to not only helping customers conserve, but also finding ways to weave sustainability through all parts of the organization. From building a Gold LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) customer service and administration center to constructing a solar farm at the Stanton Energy Center, OUC is committed to providing clean water and electricity that is affordable and reliable.
Over the years, Ksionek’s steadiness and strength helped OUC weather whatever challenges have come its way. But, above all, his passion for reliability sets him apart. From the power plants to the meter, he knows every inch of the system and remains focused on providing the highest level of service to OUC’s customers.
National/Regional Events Affect Power Industry
Northeast Blackout of 2003
On August 14, 2003, shortly after 2 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, a high-voltage power line in northern Ohio brushed against some overgrown trees and knocked out power in eight states and part of Canada. By 4:13 p.m., 508 generating units at 256 power plants across those eight states were off-line. More than 61,800 MWs of electrical load was lost in parts of Ohio, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont and the province of Ontario.
Although power was successfully restored to most customers within hours, some areas of the United States did not have power for two days and parts of Ontario experienced rolling blackouts for up to two weeks due to a generation capacity shortage. In total, about 50 million people lost power for up to
two days in the biggest blackout in North American history. The event contributed to at least 11 deaths and cost an estimated $6 billion. In the wake of the blackout, Congress passed the Energy Policy Act of 2005.
Energy Policy Act of 2005
The Energy Policy Act of 2005 was designed to combat growing energy problems and changed U.S. energy policy by providing tax incentives and loan guarantees for energy production of various types. It also expanded the role of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) by requiring it to solicit, approve and enforce new electric reliability standards from the North American Electricity Reliability Corporation (NERC). Prior to the blackout, NERC set voluntary standards. As a result of the regulation, FERC approved 96 new reliability
standards covering trees, training and tools. It also gave FERC the authority to impose fines of up to a million dollars a day for an infraction, depending on its flagrancy and the risk incurred.
South Florida Blackout of 2008
On February 26, 2008, an equipment failure and fire at a transmission substation forced the automatic shutdown of four generating units — two of them nuclear powered — at Florida Power & Light’s Turkey Point. Within minutes, the failure set off a cascade of power outages from Key West to Daytona Beach and further north, affecting up to 2.5 million customers statewide. OUC’s generating system automatically began to shut down 13 circuits at 11 substations across the metro area. That left 11,438 customers, mostly residential, without power for two to 20 minutes.
OUC Secures 20-year Renewal of Water Consumptive Use Permit
In 2004, OUC reached agreement on an historic 20-year renewal of its Consumptive Use Permit (CUP) with the St. Johns River and South Florida Water Management Districts. The permit, which represented a regional water solution among OUC, the water management districts and Orange County, authorized OUC to withdraw groundwater for treatment and distribution to customers. As part of the CUP and settlement agreement, OUC pledged to maintain its groundwater withdrawal allocation at the same level for the next 20 years, increase the use of reclaimed water, develop alternative water supply with utility partners and enhance conservation efforts.
In 45 days during Florida’s most active hurricane season on record — the summer of 2004 — Hurricanes Charley, Frances and Jeanne hit Orlando, devastating Central Florida’s tree canopy and sending thousands of trees crashing into homes and miles of power lines. Charley knocked out power to 80 percent of OUC’s customers; Frances, 40 percent; and Jeanne, 59 percent.
OUC linemen served on the front lines of restoration efforts, routinely working 16-hour days in dangerous conditions. With that effort, power was safely restored to OUC’s affected customers at a faster rate than the neighboring utilities. After Hurricane Charley, crews had to replace rear-lot line poles that had been knocked over in customers’ backyards. In some cases, cranes
were used to lift replacement poles over houses. Over the course of the three storms, OUC spent about $31 million to repair damage. Though the hurricanes impacted OUC financially, reimbursement for the bulk of hurricane-related costs came from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the State of Florida. None of these costs was passed on to customers.
In all, OUC replaced 570 poles and 453 transformers, 26.6 miles of primary line and 44.2 miles of secondary line. Only two boil water alerts were issued — and more than 2,000 linemen, tree trimmers and trouble technicians were called in to assist with restoration. Customer service representatives fielded more than 160,000 calls, a 50 percent increase from normal activity.
Mutual Aid: Returning the Favor
OUC was happy to return the favor for several utilities that sent crews to restore power in Orlando and St. Cloud after Charley devastated the area. After completing its own power restoration following Hurricane Frances and making sure that Hurricane Ivan was going to bypass Central Florida, OUC released crews to Fort Pierce Utilities Authority to help restore power to customers who had been out since Frances swept through on September 4, 2004. OUC also sent linemen to the City of Opp, Alabama (near the Florida-Alabama border) to help the restoration effort in the wake of Hurricane Ivan. In September 2005, OUC electric and water crews went to Gulfport, Mississippi, to help communities impacted by Hurricane Katrina.
In 2009, OUC partnered with the Orlando Science Center to develop a program to educate all fifth grade students in OUC’s electric and water service territories in Orange and Osceola counties about water conservation, energy efficiency and alternative energy resources. Project AWESOME (Alternative Water & Energy Supply, Observation, Methods & Education) was designed to encourage good habits at an early age utilizing hands-on water and energy activities. The curriculum met Sunshine State Standards and reached about 6,000 fifth graders in its first year.
Customer Education and Outreach
In the Community
From hurricane preparedness to input on transmission line projects, OUC was committed to keeping customers informed through neighborhood outreach.
OUC worked with St. Cloud and the community to determine the route of a new transmission line and the location of a new substation — holding several public meetings to speak with residents and invite their input. To determine the preferred route, engineers looked at 74 different transmission line segments and 96 alternative route combinations.
Hurricane Preparedness and Conservation
Following the record-breaking hurricane season of 2004, OUC held 18 community meetings to discuss hurricane preparation and response for the 2005 storm season. The utility continued those meetings in 2006 and 2007.
In early 2010, faced with a worsening economy and a rising number of calls from customers who were having
difficulty paying their utility bills, OUC hosted a series of “Reliably Green” community meetings to inform customers about conservation tips and rebate programs that could reduce their consumption and, in turn, their utility bills. Billing options and payment assistance also were featured. Later that same year, OUC partnered with the City of Orlando for the Green Neighborhood Program, which would deliver efficiency upgrades to more than 1,000 inefficient homes throughout Orlando.
In the Classroom
Throughout its history, OUC has often gone into local classrooms to talk to students about electrical safety, conservation, hurricane preparedness and careers in utilities. In 2006, OUC renewed its outreach in the schools, focusing on Central Florida’s diminishing water resources. OUC partnered with Orange County Utilities and arts teachers in Orange County Public Schools to involve students in the annual Water Color Project, a regional art contest that challenged high school students to use conservation themes to decorate rain barrels. Meanwhile, fifth graders submitted water conservation drawings for a chance to be featured in the annual Water Color Project calendar.
Balancing Affordability, Reliability and Environmental Stewardship
Beginning in 2006, the demand for affordable, reliable, clean generation was more important than ever, as the whole country was embracing a “green revolution.” Companies scrambled to add renewable resources to their generation portfolios as Congress debated “climate” laws that would tax carbon emitted from power plants. Talk of “cap and trade” regulation was the rage as utilities began to look for ways to reduce their power plant carbon emissions.
OUC undertook an electric Integrated Resource Plan to determine the best way to provide clean, affordable, reliable power and to comply with potential federal climate legislation. The utility also looked for ways to help customers become more energy efficient.
A Commitment to Sustainability
In response, OUC renewed its efforts to implement programs, practices and standards that promoted sustainability throughout the Commission. Initiatives included expanding the recycling program and upgrading facilities with energy-efficient lighting and light sensors; installing rain sensors on irrigation systems; adjusting thermostats; and forming a Green Team of employee volunteers who worked to implement practical, sustainable operations in their areas.
A Green Fleet
That commitment to sustainability was equally evident in OUC’s growing fleet. OUC’s reputation for reliable and responsive electric and water service over the years stems, in large part, from the hard work of the Fleet Division that has kept the utility’s vehicles on the road and ready to roll. In 1955, the then-Automotive Department was responsible for maintaining 57 vehicles ranging from gas-powered trucks to tractors. Since that time, the fleet has grown to include more than 800 vehicles, many of which run on lower emission biodiesel and several of which are high-efficiency plug-in electric cars and hybrid bucket trucks. Service and repair records once kept in handwritten logs are now tracked via high-tech software that communicates with a vehicle’s onboard computer to run diagnostics, schedule maintenance and assess fuel consumption and performance. These advancements have helped OUC improve the efficiency and safety of the fleet, lowering emissions and maximizing the life of the vehicles, so that they are as reliable as the crews and personnel they carry.
In 2006, OUC began using biodiesel fuel in its diesel fleet trucks. Made from renewable domestic resources — like fats used in cooking grease — biodiesel is a cleaner burning,
lower emission alternative to pure petroleum diesel fuels. The B20 mix integrated seamlessly into OUC’s current fueling system while reducing carbon dioxide emissions by more than 15 percent.
The Fleet Division also incorporated a number of other eco-conscious policies, using earth-friendly products and disposing of contaminated fuels according to environmental standards. Tires, batteries and oil filters were recycled through vendors, while freon, antifreeze and motor oil were handled on site. Water was recycled, too — thanks to mini-water treatment plants and wash racks at the Pershing and Gardenia facilities that kept OUC vehicles clean.
OUC was the first municipal utility in Florida to acquire a plug-in hybrid that gets up to 99 mpg.
The Greenest Building in
When the land under OUC’s former parking garage was required for the Department of Transportation’s expansion of State Road 408, OUC evaluated its options and made the decision to build the new 110,000-square-foot customer service and administration center and set the standard for sustainable buildings in Orlando.
While this new green home was a major milestone for OUC, it was also a first for the Central Florida community. Designed to meet the requirements for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Certification, Reliable Plaza earned the title of “The Greenest Building in Downtown Orlando.” It was designed to use about 28 percent less energy and 40 percent less water than similar buildings to code.
More than 12,000 customers visited Reliable Plaza monthly to pay their utility bills, set up or change service, or learn more about energy and water conservation.
The first floor offered one-stop service to all OUC customers. An expanded residential service center provided an improved customer experience with eight teller stations, three drive-through lanes and more convenient parking.
Commercial and industrial customers had everything they needed in the new Commercial Service Center, and local developers, builders and contractors enjoyed a single point of contact through the Development Services Center.
Reliable Plaza also featured an interactive conservation education center, located on the first floor near Customer Service. With a live link to the building’s conservation systems, the center’s touch screen gave customers real-time data on how Reliable Plaza used — and saved — energy and water. The center also provided information on green building ideas, conservation tips and programs customers could employ at home.
A Florida Original: The mural at Reliable Plaza is based on a landscape by Highwaymen artist Harold Newton (1934-94). Historian Gary Monroe noted, “Newton stands alone having created the images of modern Florida that symbolized the state as the place to really be alive.”
Stocking the Tools of the Trade
From hard hats and gloves to cable and pipe, having the right part at the right time is a critical component in delivering reliable and affordable service for customers. Dating back to the earliest days of the Commission, OUC’s supply chain area has made sure employees had the tools and materials they needed to do the job. In 2007, the largely manually intensive process of tracking, stocking and ordering items was converted to a wireless barcode scanning system that could provide data in real time, allowing OUC to keep the right amount of parts on hand and accurately forecast when materials would be needed for future projects. The high-tech system enabled OUC to further streamline its inventory, eliminating obsolete or excessive parts and reducing the costs of storing unneeded items. It also helped OUC improve efficiencies in everything from purchasing to the warehouse, while expanding the use of sustainable practices such as recycling.
By 2010, OUC was maintaining an inventory of 26,000 parts and supplies across 113,000 square feet of warehousing and 28 acres of outside storage area at five sites. In addition, OUC was recycling tons of materials in an environmentally responsible way, including porcelain insulators, wooden pallets, wooden wire and cable reels, brass water meters and more than 1.7 million pounds of steel, aluminum and copper. Across the Commission, OUC also introduced single-stream recycling to make it easier for employees to recycle a wider variety of materials and partnered with a vendor who purchased the recyclable paper and cardboard, diverting it from the landfill and generating revenue for charity.
Project Care: A History of Helping
After passing the $1 million mark in assistance in 2008, OUC overhauled Project Care, the emergency bill payment assistance program first launched in 1994, to better assist those customers who needed help the most. In addition to matching employee and customer contributions 2 to 1, OUC increased customer allocations and made eligibility guidelines more flexible. In partnership with 2-1-1, a United Way agency, OUC also funded a full-time Project Care administrator to streamline the application and approval process for qualifying OUC customers experiencing temporary problems paying their utility bills. At the close of 2010, contributions had surpassed $2 million.
Weathering Tough Economic Times
In the spring of 2008, OUC had already felt the economic ground moving beneath Central Florida. From an increase in customers needing payment arrangements . . . to well-established businesses shutting down . . . to a halting of customer growth, the utility realized a storm was brewing and that it would be necessary to batten down the hatches and prepare for rough weather.
That June, OUC undertook cost-cutting measures that included a hiring freeze for non-essential positions, release of contractors and travel limitations, to name a few.
Knowing that customers would need more help than ever, OUC launched new programs to reduce energy and water consumption and enable customers to pay utility bills over an extended period of time. In addition, OUC increased contributions to its Project Care Utility Assistance Fund by 70 percent.
Innovation — From Light Poles
to Charging Stations
OUC planned for a brighter tomorrow with a number of innovative projects including installing solar charging stations for electric vehicles and cutting-edge solar photovoltaic (PV) technology on utility poles.
As part of the utility’s commitment to alternative fuels and efficient transportation, two of its three electric-vehicle charging stations at Reliable Plaza were powered by the sun — and were the first of their kind in Orlando. Located on top of the building’s
parking garage, the 16-panel solar array provided a total of 2.8 kilowatts of power to charge the vehicles.
To help prepare Central Florida to support plug-in electric vehicles, OUC partnered with the City of Orlando, Orange County and others as part of a national non-profit initiative called Project Get Ready. A Department of Energy ChargePoint America Grant would provide nearly 300 charging stations to Central Florida.
New Conservation Requirements
On December 1, 2009, the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) established new peak demand and energy conservation requirements for all large electric utilities in the State of Florida. The new rules would require OUC to reduce energy consumption by an
average 3,600,000 kWh each year. To accomplish those goals, OUC was determined to ramp-up promotion of existing programs and introduce new ones to help customers improve the efficiency of their homes and businesses.
A Solar City in the Sunshine State
OUC’s efforts to ready Central Florida for a renewable future were rewarded in 2008 as its hometown was designated a “Solar America City” by the U.S. Department of Energy. The ongoing green partnership between OUC, the City of Orlando and Orange County received $450,000 in funding and technical expertise to help develop solar projects in the community that could be replicated across the country. The previous year, OUC had launched solar photovoltaic and solar thermal programs that helped customers eliminate the upfront costs of solar. The program included a partnership with the Orlando Federal Credit Union to provide no- or low-interest loans to homeowners.
OUC Partners on Largest Solar Rooftop Array in Southeast at the Orange County Convention Center
In May 2009, OUC joined Orange County to flip the switch on the largest rooftop solar PV system in the Southeast United States. The 1-MW array atop the Orange County Convention Center was the result of a partnership between OUC and Orange County that was awarded a $2.5 million grant from the State of Florida to install the landmark project. DOE named the installation a Solar America Showcase.
In addition to the grant, OUC contributed $1.5 million to the project and would receive 10 years worth of Renewable Energy Credits.
The PV system, which utilizes high-efficiency, flat-plate collectors, covered about 200,000 square feet of the Convention Center’s North/South building and would generate 1,300 to 1,500 MWH of electricity per year — the equivalent amount of power used by 80 to 100 typical homes. And no greenhouse gas emissions would be produced in the process.
Green Neighborhood Program
In 2010, OUC partnered with the City of Orlando on the Green Neighborhood Program, a weatherization fix-up program that targeted homes in some of the City’s least energy-efficient neighborhoods. Based on historical consumption data from OUC, the City developed an energy intensity map to identify the neighborhoods with the highest energy consumption per square foot.
The Green Neighborhood Program was provided free to neighborhoods with a history of high energy consumption, thanks to funding from OUC and the federal stimulus funds the City received in the form of an Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG). Participants in the Green Neighborhood Program received an energy and water audit from OUC followed by a complimentary package of electric and water conservation measures valued up to $1,000.
New Power Partnerships: OUC Sells Electricity to Vero Beach and Bartow
Power plants take years to permit and construct and are built with growth in mind. Utilities forecast their generation requirements and supplement their electricity needs by selling blocks of generation to other municipalities or utilities through power purchase agreements. Such power partnerships with other municipalities have been an effective way for OUC to contract large increments of power over a definite
period of time as the utility grows into its load requirements.
On January 1, 2010, OUC became the exclusive power provider for the City of Vero Beach — providing about 100 MW of electricity to the beachfront community for a period of 20 years. The agreement made OUC Vero Beach’s exclusive power provider and power marketer, supplying future energy requirements above the
City’s current resource level.
Also in 2010, OUC and the City of Bartow signed a seven-year power purchase agreement. OUC would provide wholesale power to the City beginning January 1, 2011; Bartow would then distribute it through its existing infrastructure to about 11,000 customers.
OUC opened its first solar farm — and the first of its kind in Orange County — in December 2011. The Stanton Solar Farm, which is located at the Curtis H. Stanton Energy Center along Innovation Way in east Orange County, generates enough renewable energy to power more than 600 homes.
Duke Energy Renewables owns and operates the 5.9-Megawatt solar photovoltaic (PV) array, which was built by Regenesis Power LLC. OUC will purchase the green power from the system for 20 years, making it a cost effective way to incorporate more alternative energy sources into its portfolio and study the impact large-scale solar projects have on the electric distribution system. With the addition of the solar farm, OUC became the only utility in the state to host solar, landfill gas, natural gas and coal generation at the same site.
The solar farm's 25,172 solar modules tilt automatically toward the sun as it moves across the sky each day. The patented single-axis tracking system increases electricity output by up to 30 percent, and its Florida-proof design enables the panels to withstand Category-4 hurricane-strength winds by moving into a stow position before a major storm arrives.
OUR COMMITMENT TO FUTURE GENERATIONS
At the close of the first decade of the new millennium, OUC remained committed to building upon the strong foundation it had established over the past 87 years. Through it all, one thing has been constant — the employees of OUC continue to provide the highest level of reliability at affordable rates while acting as good stewards of the environment.