History of OUC
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Over the last century, as Orlando evolved from a small town into a vibrant city, OUC–The Reliable One has been a community backbone, serving residential and commercial customers with dependable, low-cost electric and water services.
OUC's heritage dates back to 1922 when the city of Orlando bought Orlando Water & Light Co., a privately held company in operation since 1901. City leaders issued $975,000 in bonds to purchase and improve the utility.
In 1923, the state Legislature granted the city a charter to establish the Orlando Utilities Commission to operate the system. And after voters approved $575,000 more in bonds to expand the utility, OUC built a new, larger plant, the Lake Ivanhoe Power and Water Plant on North Orange Avenue, which now stands as a performing arts center.
Orlando's initial $1.55 million investment has grown into an electric and water utility with more than $2 billion in assets and annual operating revenues in excess of $673 million. Total electric sales have soared from 7 million kilowatt hours per year to more than 8.5 trillion kilowatt hours per year. Likewise, water sales have risen from less than 700,000 gallons a year to 31 billion gallons a year.
Over the past 85 years, OUC's customer base has grown from about 5,000 electric and water customers to more than 250,000, serving a population of more than 342,000.
To keep up with this growth, OUC has built and expanded four power plants and eight water plants over the years, all financed with bonds covered by its own revenues. At the same time, OUC has consistently maintained double-A bond ratings, among the best given by analysts.
Recognizing the unmet needs of large commercial customers, OUC has ventured into several new business directions, including OUCooling and OUConvenient Lighting. OUCooling, a program that provides chilled water, operates six chilled water plants in four chilled water districts with more than 30,000 tons of cooling capacity. OUConvenient Lighting provides innovative outdoor lighting solutions throughout Central Florida.
Since 1995, OUC has converted all of its water plants to ozone treatment and built two new ozone plants. As part of the process, OUC abandoned five older plants, replaced more than 12 miles of older water pipelines, and installed a sophisticated computer system that enables OUC personnel to operate all water plants from a single location.
By treating its water with ozone, a strong but safe disinfectant, OUC dramatically reduces the use of chlorine in its water system and removes hydrogen sulfide, a naturally occurring compound that can create an unpleasant taste and odor in water. The result is tap water that tastes so good it bears the company's name - H2OUC.
H2OUC was named the best drinking water in the state in 2004 by the Florida section of the American Water Works Association (AWWA). A panel of judges tested water from 10 utilities across the state, checking for taste, color, clarity, and smell.
OUC–The Reliable One continues to live up to its name. It has been honored four times as the most reliable electric utility in the Southeastern United States by PA Consulting Group, a leading management, systems, and technology consulting firm.
OUC’s customer service and administration center in downtown Orlando – Reliable Plaza – is a Gold Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified facility that uses 26 percent less energy and 43 percent less water than a similarly sized building.
Known as the "Greenest Building in downtown Orlando," the 10-story Reliable Plaza features highly reflective roofing, night time light pollution reduction, water efficient landscape irrigation and drought resistant plants, a water collection cistern, solar photovoltaic panels to generate renewable energy, solar thermal water heating, daylighting strategies, Low-E glass and an internal recycling program.
This commitment to green building led the Central Florida chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council to select Reliable Plaza as the 2009 LEED New Construction Project of the Year.
The history of OUC reveals a consistent record of forward-thinking expansion and service delivery improvement, which is characteristic of locally controlled utilities.
OUC–The Reliable One is a municipal utility owned by the citizens of Orlando. It provides electricity and water services to customers in Orlando, St. Cloud, and parts of Orange and Osceola counties.