EL&P tunes in, turns on and doesn’t drop out

The 1960s was a turbulent decade famous for hippies, mod colors, the Beatles and restless political agendas most poignantly symbolized in Timothy Leary’s famous slogan “Tune in, turn on and drop out.”

Electric Light & Power magazine did no such thing. In fact, the closest thing to political turbulence in the magazine that decade were editorials slamming the energy policy of “Uncle Lyndy” and a late ’60s General Electric ad that plays off Leary and states that their new Durabute Sectionalizer “tunes in (a fault current), turns on (a counter), drops out (after a predetermined number of fault pulses).”


EL&P wonders about the future of substation aesthetics: In this US Steel design, the substation might be located atop a tower structure. This design by Peter Mueller-Monk Associates, Pittsburgh, incorporates a restaurant beneath the facility, which would be a local landmark attracting residents to the shopping center. The substation could also serve a subway system. A similar design is not being considered by a developer in a southeastern city. (EL&P, May 1966, page 79.)
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In the first editorial of the decade, Managing Editor P.B. Garrett talks about the industry preparing itself for the next few years:

“Not only is our electric light and power industry keenly aware of the many challenges that face it in the decade ahead, but it is exhibiting firm determination to meet those challenges head on,” he wrote.

“In doing so, our industry will contribute in large measure to creating what many believe will prove to be the ‘Soaring ’60s’.”


Following Park Service approval, Jack Hall, left, Arizona Public Service construction supervisor, and Harold Taylor, job engineer, discuss final details prior to launching of the two-day airlift of materials in the Grand Canyon. The company also uses helicopters for line patrol. (EL&P, January 1, 1960, page 51.)
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The decade moved along smoothly for the power industry, with issues about new technologies and grid expansion dominating the pages of EL&P. But, it wasn’t all high-brow engineering and details; there were also some MacGyver-esque quick fixes as well. In March 1960, EL&P discussed how one utility solved its ongoing battle with canine attackers:

Bad for Dogs-Good for Alibis

Gulf States Utilities reports that its meter readers are meeting their long-time foes-dogs-with inexpensive perfume. The perfume discourages the dogs from barking and biting with no harmful effects. Nothing was reported about meter readers’ wives’ reactions the first day after the water pistols were used.


Control room for Georgia Power Company’s Plant Jack McDonough, with installed capacity of 500 MW in two units. This plant’s electronic digital computer provides automatic data logging of all variable conditions affecting plant operation, computes performance efficiency of the turbine, boiler and other major components, and selects the most efficient set of conditions for operating the entire plant at any required generating load. (EL&P, December 1965, page 49.)
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In the early 1960s, EL&P was still publishing two large issues a month, a habit we’d started back in the mid-1950s. But with a new look-featuring a logo that simply read “EL&P”-came the return to the once-a-month schedule the magazine still follows to this day. Our first Utility of the Year was crowned in November 1969, although the award was then called “Achievement in the Climate of Excellence.” The first winner that year was Sierra Pacific Power Company.

Speaking of 1960s leftovers that we still contend with today, our Contributing Editor for management methods, Ted Pollock, came to EL&P in the late 1960s with a column then entitled “Successful Management Methods.” Already dolling out sage executive advice, Ted wrote about getting credit for good work and ideas in his April 1968 column.

“Be quick to show appreciation for good work,” he said. “See to it that individuals receive the proper acknowledgment for their ideas, whether it takes the form of a bonus, prize, raise, scroll-or the simple public expression, ‘well done!'”

Taking his advice, we must then comment, “Ted, thanks for thirty-plus years of service. Well done.”

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