Early Electrification of Buffalo: Types of Electric Service available in Buffalo
This is Part 11 of a 14 part series.
An October 1921 Buffalo General Electric magazine called ‘The Welder’ states that 25-Hz service for power was generally available in all parts of the City. Other types of service were confined to certain sections of the City as shown in Figures 11.1, 11.2, 11.3 & 11.4:i
This 1921 magazine also noted “only 61% of the employees of the B. G. E. Company live in wired homes.”ii
In 1923 Buffalo General Electric started a project in Buffalo of installing electric streetlights to replace 10,000 gaslights like the one shown in Figure 11.5 with a two-piece cast iron standard.iii While many of the cast iron gas standards were converted to electric streetlights, most were replaced with the type standard shown in Figure 11.6.
Note that all the power supplied to the City of Buffalo was from facilities located in the northwest sector of the City [Fig. 11.7]. This required a very extensive 11,000-V and 22,000-V cable system to distribute power to the distribution stations and customers scattered around the City. To supplement these sources, 60,000-V to 22,000-V Terminal Station D was built on Bailey Avenue south of William and placed in service July 1926 [Fig. 11.8]. A double-circuit 60,000-V overhead transmission line from Terminal Station C supplied Terminal Station D. 22,000-V cables were installed to pickup substations and customers in the southeast section of the City.iv
Distribution substations No. 16 through No. 20 were built for 22,000 V.
Synchronous condensers for power factor correction were installed in several stations. A synchronous condenser is a synchronous motor running at no load with the field adjusted so the armature takes a leading current.
Not all businesses were sold on central station electric service.
For example the author was told the Ellicott Square building [Fig11.14] generated electricity in the winter when they operated steam boilers for heating, and purchased electricity from Buffalo General Electric in the summer.v
Hotel Statler [Fig. 11.16], which was built in 1923, used reciprocating steam engine driven ammonia compressors for air conditioning and making ice until about 1970. This required the hotel to operate steam boilers year round.vii
The City of Buffalo’s Col. Ward Pumping Station [Fig. 11.17] at the foot of Porter Avenue kept these huge steam pumps in reserve until about 1970. Electric pumps are in the foreground.viii
i. H. B. Alverson, “Our Systems of Distribution,” The Welder, Published by the Employees of the Buffalo General Electric Company, 1 No. 8 (1921):12.
ii. “Is Your Home Wired?” The Welder, Published by the Employees of the Buffalo General Electric Company, 1, No 8, (1921):27.
iii. Adams, Niagara Power, 2:292.
iv. “Happenings” (An Annual Log from the Electric Operations Department, Buffalo General Electric Company, 1926, photocopy).
v. Related to the author by George Adams, NMP T&D engineer, ca. 1961.
vi. “Larkin Company Now Uses Niagara Power,” Power Events, Published by Buffalo, Niagara & Eastern Power Corporation, 5, No 2 (1930): 8.
vii. Author’s recollection from personal observation during work as NMP Underground Engineer.
viii. Author’s recollection from personal observation during work as NMP Underground Engineer.