[X001M2AQ], Letter from Wilson Stout Howell to Edison Electric Light and Power Co (St Paul), Samuel A Crozer, Jr., February 6th, 1889


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[X001M2AQ], Letter from Wilson Stout Howell to Edison Electric Light and Power Co (St Paul), Samuel A Crozer, Jr., February 6th, 1889

Editor's Notes

Dear Sir:- At the request of Mr. Finn I make the following report of the progress of the work under my charge at the St. Paul station, while at the same time presenting for your consideration a statement of the work necessary to bring the system into good working order and meet the increased demand for light which must follow as soon as your service is constant and uniform throughout.##Were you now able to serve a thouroughly satisfactory illumination (such as other Edison Co's do) the only limit in securing customers would be in the floor space of your station.##The Gas Co. give a very poor light both from their gas and Westinghouse, and they practicably are your only competitors.##Your light to-day averages better than any other light in town except the Arc or some Isolated plants, but still the difference is not sufficient to make customers for you rapidly, and well it is not for in your present condition it were wiser to drop a few customers than to add many to your already overloaded system. Refering to my report of last December you will see that when I returned here in January I found your station equipped with eight Feeders calculated to carry about 2800 Amperes at I25 volts, which were loaded with 4000 amperes at I45 volts and that although your Mains were calculated to carry a load of 5000 amperes it was intended they should be fed at fifteen (I5) different points, whereas they were only fed at eight (8) points, causing more loss on the Mains with 4000 amperes than was intended with 5000 amperes.##The problem is to add other feeders which should serve current in the Mains at the pints where pressure is low so as to relieve adjoining mians & Feeders - lower the pressure on the Dynamos and decrease loss of energy on the Feeders.##To reduce loss of energy on the Feeders to 10% of the output at maximum load of 4000 amperes (2000 amperes on each side) it is necessary to add copper equivalent to six #000 B.W.G. Wires in the shape of new Feeders, which will cost for bare copper wire at 20 cents per lbb. About $5000 - add to this, cost of Equalizers Indicators and Pressure wires, cost of labor etc, and the increase of investment will be about $7500, in all.##Thus far the course seems plain but having purchased already copper for a new Feeder, to serve the vicinity of 3rd and Robert Sts., where the lights are dull during the height of the load; the condition of the pole line, already heavily loaded, confronts us with with the stubborn fact that no great additional weight of wire can be born.##Prehaps one or at the most two new Feeders can be put upon the Existing line of poles (although greatly increasing the liability to accidents) but your pole line cannot carry sufficient copper to transmit your present maximum load at as little as 10% loss.##What then isalinativo?##What then is the alternative?##There are three courses open.##First:- Add all the copper in the shape of feeders which the poles will stand (replacing weak poles with heavy sticks) and do not increase your maximum load but rather so manage your customers that your revenue will increase without any increase of load, by choosing your customers : selecting the best and dropping the poor ones, so that with the meters and the new type lamp your earnings will increase with no change in putout.##This course requires a minimum increase of investment, but at the same time it limits the earning capacity of the plant and allows your competitors to occupy the field which you practicably abandon.##A stand still policy in the face of great possibilities of your territory, I contrary to usual St. Paul practice.##Second:- Add no more wire to the pole line but lay the additional Feeders necessary under ground from the station to the localities where the pressure is low, or where it is necessary to relieve the Mains. The only objects to this course is the distance of the station from the center of distribution (the electrical center of the district) which is about the corner of 5th & Minnesota Sts.##If your station had been placed at (or near) the corner above mentioned, which we will call the center, the average cost of Feeders would be much less than (I/5) on-fifth of the cost necessary from the present location, with the same per cent of lossThird:- Construct a new station nearer the electrical center of your present territory and place all your feeders underground, calculated at 10% loss.Equip the new station with the best modern apparatus, and run it in accordance with the best practice.##Each plan has its advantage each its drawbacks, all have a common end in that they tend to make a better light and reduce the loss of energy on conductors. The first plan require the least investment and introduces no changes in your present plans or methods, but it prohibits extentions or future increase; while this plan is adherred to as you will soon reach a limit beyond which overhead growth must cease. The dangers arising from an exceeding heavy overhead line of conductors are such as many stations have laid their feeders underground in order to reduce the liability to damage from wind storms, sleet, fires or malicios mischief, and to avoid the unsightliness of a large number of eavy wires on one line. With all your feeders underground your overhead line would consist only of the Mains, one Main for each street, composed of three wires, graded in size, according to the number of lamps served from the Main.##Such a combination system would prove of great advantage without the usual disadvantagegs of underground system which require an opening in the street for every service.##Your mains (The wires from which the customers are served with current) being on the poles are easily tapped into buildings and extentions are easily made at any time of the year provided the pole rights are obtained. The feeders if of good make and properly laid, will require no attention, and will cost less for maintenance and repairs than any part of the system and will in fact show better economy than an overhead line of feeders.##The only objection that can be urged against underground Feeders is the increased investment which is more than balanced by their greater safety and higher economy.##New Brunswick, N.J. Edison Co., buried its Feeders in Jan. 1886 and since that date it has not been opened one foot of the street except to inspect the condition of the conduit for a report to a company contemplating underground work.##During severe wind storms their overhead conductors became crossed, mischief making boys frequently fouled these wires with scraps of tin or short lengths of iron wire thrown over their line. Fires along the line have caused them to cut out parts of the overhead system, while nothing has ever in any way interfered with their underground Feeders. The most radical plan is the last one proposed; the construction of a station on the latest plans, in the center of the district now lighted.##The main advantage of having a station located in the center of the care lighted, is the great saving of the investment in feeders and the reduction of loss on Feeders.##With underground Feeders the cost is almost prohibitive when the station is a great distance from the center, unless a large per cent of loss is allowed and the number of feeders is small.##The St. Paul Plant was designed for fifteen (15 feeders), the average length of wfhich from the present location is about 2800 feet, while from the a central location the average length would be only about I250 feet of much less than half the distance requiring less than one quarter the weight of copper at the same loss of energy, and less than half the length of trench to be dug.##The turning point of the change of location is the use to which the present station can be put that will enable it to pay for itself. If you could secure a contract for street lighting it would pay you t oput in an Edison Municipal and an Arc Light sytsem and operate the present station for street lighting, motors and all the territory north and west of ninth street considering pricipally of dwellings.##With these two stations all the cream of the lighting in St. Paul could be secured, motors could be served from special circuit at high pressures which cwould allow greater economy in transmission and enable you to cover any reasonable distance, say three or four miles, and to serve motors of any size up to thirty or forty H.P. without in any way interfering with the lights.##I firmly believe that with the street lighting contract secured it would pay to make such a change and that two stations would pay much better than the present one can be made to unless the present building is remodeled to carry at least twice as much machinery as at present installed. Yours very truly, Wilson S. Howell
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Thomas A. Edison Papers, School of Arts and Sciences, Rutgers University
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