Some Things Never Change

POWERGRID International’s sister magazine Electric Light & Power (EL&P) is celebrating its 90th anniversary this month, so we editors reviewed all 90 years’ worth of the past issues. We’re still writing about many of the same topics today.

In 1924, EL&P published an article on electric vehicle charging stations and costs. In ’26, EL&P reported on difficulties when buying rights of way for transmission build out. Who knew NIMBY was a factor nearly 90 years ago?

In the ’30s, underground distribution for residential neighborhoods was seen as a way to improve neighborhood aesthetics and reliability. Sound familiar?

Pages from the ’40s hold some of the most interesting stories. Many highlight electricity’s importance in the war effort. Early in the decade, bolstering the grid to support wartime manufacturing was important. Later that decade, much discussion focused on how power companies would meet post-war job challenges. Utilities even developed training programs for veterans who were returning home from war. EL&P also reported the average annual utility employee salary in 1940: $1,450. Also in the ’40s, Los Angeles developed a system to black out street lights in four minutes to mitigate damage in the case of an enemy attack on the West Coast.

During the ’50s, EL&P published many articles about rural electrification. An article titled “Listen when the customer speaks” indicates utilities were as concerned about their customers as most are now. There also were articles on automatic control of transmission substations and the feasibility of remote meter reading.

The 1960s covered the Cold War, including underground radioactive fallout resistant dispatching. In ’62, EL&P reported that the first 500 kV transmission line went commercial, and in ’66, the magazine included an article on the wide applications of HVDC transmission.

Electric vehicles resurfaced in the 1970s and in current issues.

EL&P’s anniversary illustrates electricity’s and electric utilities’ importance in U.S. history and that the industry is resilient and resourceful. Electric utilities have overcome many challenges during the past 90 years, including the Great Depression and World War II. They survived and continued to grow, innovate and improve. I expect they will do the same in coming years, but I’m not so sure about electric vehicles.

Editor in chief

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