IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - September/October 2015 - 87

EIG-024 IEEE PowerEnergy 7/22/15 12:40 PM Page 1

of 60-Hz "monocyclic" generators driven by 40-Hz motors.
These generators, however, were rewound for conventional
three-phase output at the Dock Street substation (see Figure 5).
The monocyclic power distribution system had been devised by Dr. Steinmetz during the 1890s. This had been at
the request of GE executives looking for a new system that
would avoid some of the incessant patent conflicts with the
Westinghouse Electric Company, which held early threephase patents, as well as with the Stanley Electric Manufacturing Company of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, which was
building two-phase equipment.
The monocyclic system was basically a single-phase
distribution system for lighting but with a third "teaser"
wire to operate specially wound monocyclic motors that
were then self-starting, as were two-phase and three-phase
motors. The monocyclic system did not last long, however,
partly because of a patent cross-licensing agreement between GE and Westinghouse in 1896, but also because the
monocyclic system was so unusual that metering concerns
by users actually even confounded Steinmetz himself for
a time.
The Dock Street substation also contained eight constant-current transformers for the operation of seriesconnected, ac arc lamps for street lighting. Each of these
special transformers was rated at 4,000 V and 6.6 A, a
common series street lighting current rating in that era.
Two 75-kW induction motor-driven exciters were provided (with space for a third) to supply the fields of the
synchronous motors and alternators of the motor-generator
sets. These also served to charge a 55-cell (110-V) station
battery used to operate remote-controlled circuit breakers
and for emergency station lighting.
Figure 6 is a circa 1928 view of the Schenectady GE
plant. Downtown Schenectady is to the lower left, out of
view, and the Westinghouse Illuminating Company building is just out of view to the lower left as well. The Erie Canal has been filled in through the downtown area but is still
intact along the GE plant. The four smokestacks near the
center of the photo are from the Building 13 power house,
and the two stacks at the upper right are from the Building
61 power house. A small square building (with a decorative
cupola) near the end of the canal was the main offices of the
Westinghouse Agricultural Machinery Company, and the
group of smaller buildings along the canal bank just past
the offices are the remains of that factory. The Dock Street
substation is the long, rectangular building to the left of the
office building, and the employees' baseball field is at the
lower right.

40-Hz Power Elsewhere
During the 1890s, GE aggressively sought contracts for
the electrification of textile mills located throughout the
southern United States. Due to their interest in the promotion of 40-Hz power, many of these mills were initially equipped with 40-Hz electric motors.

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