The Electric Industry: A Brief History - Wisconsin Public Utility Institute

The Electric Industry: A Brief History - Wisconsin Public Utility Institute

The Electric Industry:

A Brief History

Don Neumeyer

Electric Division, PSC of


Legislative Energy

Basics Mini Course

March 7, 2005

Wisconsin Public Utility Institute 1

History of Electric Industry

The Beginnings 1878-1900

1878 Edison Electric Light Co

1879 Incandescent lamp

1882 World’s first hydroelectric system at Appleton, WI

1882 Pearl Street Station, NY (DC system)

85 customers with 400 lamps

Economic to distribute w/in 1 mile of station

1888 Tesla’s AC system prevails

Early city franchises were nonexclusive!

29 franchises in Chicago granted 1882-1905

1891 National Brotherhood of Electrical Workers

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George Westinghouse Nikola Tesla The AC Team

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From “Stewards of the Wisconsin

Wisconsin Valley Improvement Company

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History of Electric Industry

Load diversity

took several

years to


Lighting and

electric rail

were primary

uses by 1912













1887 1897 1907

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History of Electric Industry

Era of Private Utilities 1901-1932

1900 60 kV transmission line energized

1902 5 MW turbine for Chicago (largest)

1907 state utility regulation in Wisconsin,

Massachusetts, New York

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From “Path of a Pioneer”

Wisconsin Electric Power Company

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History of Electric Industry

1927 first regional power pool: PJM

1929 GE produces 208 MW unit, largest in

service until 1953.

1901-1932 demand grew at an annual

average rate of 12% per year despite a

14% drop in generation in 1929 to the

1932 Depression low

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History of Electric Industry

Emergence of Federal Power 1933-1950

1935 Public Utility Holding Company Act.

Part of Federal Power Act of 1935

Required registration with SEC if ownership was

greater than 10% of a gas or elec. co.

No intermediate holding companies allowed.

1936 Rural Electrification Act

Targeted towns with populations under 2,500

In 1930 only 10% of farms had electricity

By 1945, 45% of farms had electricity

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From “Transforming the Heartland”

Wisconsin Power & Light Company

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History of Electric Industry

1930s Federal generation expands

Hoover Dam in 1936

Grand Coolee Dam in 1941

TVA Act of 1933

Bonneville Project Act of 1937 (Fed Power Marketing)

1932 Municipals owned only 5% of generation

1940 Nonutility generation is 21%

1941 Public Power is 12% (Fed is 7%)

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Castle Rock the last dam on

The Wisconsin River 1951 –

Also Willie Wirehand for the Cooperatives

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History of Electric Industry

Utility Prosperity 1951-1970

1950-1960 demand growth averages 8.5%

1956 1st commercial nuclear unit permit-

Shippingport, Pennsylvania

1961 First natural gas turbines

1965 Northeast blackout

1968 NERC formed

1969 National Environmental Policy Act

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345 kV at Appleton 1960s

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Point Beach begins to load fuel 1970

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History of Electric Industry

Years of Challenge 1971-1984

Many larger 500 – 1000 MW Coal and Nuclear

units planned

1970 EPA formed

1973 OPEC oil embargo; oil price jumps

1974 Peak # of nuclear units on order

1974 First drop in electric sales since 1946

1975 Thirteen nuclear units cancelled

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History of Electric Industry

1977 DOE formed

1978 PURPA--ends utility generation monopoly

1979 Three Mile Island nuclear accident

1980 First US wind farm in NH

1982--19 nuclear plants closed, construction

halted, or plans cancelled

1982 Nuclear Waste Policy Act: DOE to build

waste site for nuke fuel by 1998 (defaulted)

1986 Chernobyl accident

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History of Electric Industry

Nonutility Growth and Restructuring

—Late 1980s-1990’s

1987 Nonutility generation 5%, highest since 1974

1988 PSNH files for bankruptcy due to Seabrook

nuke plant--1st electric utility bankruptcy in 50 yrs.

1992 National Energy Policy Act.

1995 FERC NOPR aims to reform wholesale market.

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History of Electric Industry

1996 Calif., RI, Mass. adopt retail plans

1996 First electricity futures traded

1996 FERC rules 888, 889 open

transmission network

1996-present--Merger wave

2002 FERC NOPR SMD (Standard Market


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History of Electric Industry

1997-1998--Severe reliability constraints due to

nuke outages and transmission constraints

1998 DOE defaults on nuke fuel storage.

1998 First full scale retail competition launched

in California. Others follow.

1998-present: Formation of ISOs, RTOs.

1998-present: States and Feds consider

renewable standards in exchange for retail


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History of Electric Industry

2000 – present, rapid market changes

2000 FERC Order 2000 requires all transmission

owning utilities to state plan to place

transmission assets in control of independent

system operator or else state why they can’t

2000 Generation plant divestiture peaks

2000 DOE issues report on electric reliability in

Summer of 1999 and finds problems with

transmission congestion and distribution


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Recent Wisconsin History

1976 Advance Plan 1 Wisconsin

1995 PSCW restructuring work plan

1997 WIRES (Wisconsin Interface

Reliability Enhancement Study)

1998 Advance Plan 8 (last)

2000 PSC 111 Strategic Energy

Assessments (SEA) & CPCNs

2003 SEA to 7 years

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