Expanding OUC’s Water System through Acquisition The most significant change to the OUC water
OUC Develops Programs to Encourage Customer Conservation As a result of the energy crisis and drought
Bay Hill, a prominent residential development
As a result of the new structure, high energy
operations that occurred during the 1980s was
surrounding Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Golf
of the previous decade, conservation played
the purchase of five developer-built water system
Club, and Orange Tree, a residential/golf
a prominent role in the 1980s. To help reduce
plants from Orange County in 1980 and the
course community, were two of the premier
Florida’s dependency on foreign oil, the state
program — and it was a resounding success.
acquisition of the Dr. Phillips water system in
developments in the Dr. Phillips area
ordered utilities to conduct programs to lower
On the first day, more than 300 customers
1983. Through the Dr. Phillips purchase, OUC
acquired by OUC.
power consumption. In response, OUC
swamped OUC with requests for audits
developed numerous conservation initiatives,
(Orlando Sentinel, May 3, 1984). In addition to
users were charged a higher rate. In 1984, OUC began its Home Energy Audit
added 12 square miles of new service territory
“Orlando Utilities Commission has a long
along with an established customer base and
and enviable record of good management and
which served as the foundation of OUC’s
waiving the usual $15 fee, the program paid
existing water system infrastructure. The Dr.
outstanding service to its customers at
energy and water conservation efforts. Most
$5 to customers who had audits. OUC also
Phillips water system was owned and operated
reasonable rates. We are confident that the
have been expanded over the years and are
gave participants a one-time $10 credit for
by Dr. Phillips Utilities, a private company formed
Dr. Phillips community will be assured of the
still in place today.
buying energy-efficient appliances and a free
to provide water and wastewater service to an
proper attention to their needs by the Orlando
During this period, OUC revamped its
water-heater jacket, which saved them about
area in southwest Orange County that started to
Utilities Commission,” said H.E. Johnson,
rate structure for energy use to encourage
be developed in the early 1960s, as citrus groves
president of the Howard Phillips Fund, owner
conservation as part of a state-mandated plan.
gave way to residential homes and shopping
of all the utilities’ stock (The Times [Winter
Prior to this time, high energy users received
Home Energy Fix-up Program for homeowners
centers. The Dr. Phillips name was linked to the
Garden], March 10, 1983).
a discounted rate because it cost OUC less
who could not afford to make the minor repairs
to generate large amounts of electricity.
and improvements needed to save energy.
area in recognition of a man who was a pioneer
As OUC expanded its water system,
in the Central Florida citrus industry and grew
it also had to contend with severe water
citrus on the land before it was sold to developers.
shortages that plagued the region. Orange
The newly acquired area was bordered on
restriction, and the St. Johns River Water
east by Turkey Lake Road, on the north by
Management District also imposed mandatory
Conroy-Windermere Road, and on the south
water restrictions in Osceola, Volusia, Seminole,
by a westerly extension of State Road 528.
Brevard and Indian River counties.
Harry Luff: “Architect of OUC Financial Systems” General Manager (1983–1986) arry 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 familiarity with the operation of complex steam power plants and his ability to effectively analyze problems caused management to take notice. His attention to detail and ability to develop systems, processes and programs to solve problems catapulted him through the ranks — first as head of the electric operations department, then as Assistant
In 1984, OUC won the first of many “Outstanding Water Treatment Plant Awards” from the American Water Works Association (AWWA). The award applied to all nine treatment plants. AWWA cited the OUC system for high water quality standards that exceed state and federal standards and leadership in planning, introducing and implementing new treatment and operations techniques.
In 1985, OUC introduced a Low Income
County invoked a 15 percent voluntary water
the west by the Butler Chain of Lakes, on the
OUC Wins Coveted Water Award
$2 a month off their electric bill.
General Manager in 1967 and finally as General Manager in 1983. However, it was Luff’s financial acumen that enabled OUC to fund rapid expansion and investment in new technology. Curt Stanton remembers meeting Luff: “First time I ever saw him, he was crawling out of the boiler with an old sailor hat on, and I tell you he looked like . . . he was just covered with coal.“ Stanton soon learned that Luff’s willingness to roll up his sleeves and get into the nitty-gritty details would become a tremendous asset to OUC.
“In July 1967, Curt Stanton asked me to be his assistant general manager,” Luff recalled. “I wasn’t sure what my duties would be, but Curt assured me he had a lot of special assignments in mind. As it turned out, there were more assignments than I could handle alone. I assembled a strong team that developed the first cashflow diagrams ever used at OUC and a new depreciation system. We established formulas for fair payments to the City and County, as well as an electric and water ratemaking system. As an outgrowth of
these activities, we established a basis for using corporate financial modeling for long-range financial planning to study the impact of major system expansion on rates. Curt assigned us to work with bond issues and underwriters handling the finances for major plant additions. We found out the real issues that impact rates. It was a shock for a past plant engineer who thought that plant efficiency was everything in holding down rates to find out how many millions of dollars could be saved through sharp management of financing. In a highly capital-intensive business like electric utilities, the amount that can be saved is awesome.”