IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - September/October 2015 - 88

In addition to textile manufacturing,
40-Hz power was also introduced into other
industries. In 1905, a 500-kVA, 40-Hz GE
alternator was installed in the power house
of the Lehigh Portland Cement Company
in Allentown, Pennsylvania. However,
many 40-Hz installations were made in textile mills in Massachusetts as well.
Around 1906, a hydroelectric plant for
the Woronoco Paper Company, near the
town of Westfield, Massachusetts, was
equipped with two GE 300-kW, 40-Hz
alternators (with provision for a third).
These provided power at 600 V to 40-Hz
GE motors of sizes up to 200 hp. What was
described as a "handsome" switchboard of
blue Vermont marble included one panel
for the metering of outgoing circuits in the
event it was decided to sell excess 40-Hz
power. In 1911, this plant was purchased
by the Strathmore Paper Company. The
plant still exists today, but it is not known
how long the 40-Hz power was in use.
The town of Rumford, Maine, used
40-Hz power from the Rumford Falls
Power Company. Conversion to 60-Hz
power began in 1946 and was completed two years later. However, the Oxford

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figure 7. The interior of the Mechanicville hydroelectric generating station in
2008 (photo courtesy of Thomas J. Blalock).

Paper Company mills in Rumford did
not begin conversion from 40 Hz to
60 Hz until 1953, and that task was not
completed until 1986. By that time, both
the mills and the local power company
had been purchased by the giant Boise
Cascade Corporation. As of 1987, the
Great Northern Paper Company located
in Millenocket, Maine, was still using a
considerable amount of 40-Hz power.

Epilogue
Today, the Mechanicville hydroelectric station is still generating 40-Hz
power using its original 1898 generators. This is the result of heroic restoration efforts by James A. Besha,
president of the Albany Engineering
Corporation. Two 1915 vintage GE rotating frequency changer sets are still
in use to convert the station's output
power to 60-Hz (see Figure 7). It is
possible that this may now be the oldest hydroelectric station in the world
still in operation with its original
equipment. Any readers' comments in
this regard would be of interest.

Acknowledgments
The author is indebted to Chris Hunter, archivist of the MiSci Archives in
Schenectady, New York, and to Melissa Tacke, archivist at the Schenectady
County Historical Society, for photos and
information pertinent to this article. The
author is also indebted to Steve Rockwell
of the Edison Tech Center in Schenectady
for additional background information.

P.O. Box 370, California, MO 65018

634276_Tana.indd 1

23/03/13 10:38 AM

For Further Reading
B. G. Lamme, "The technical story of
the frequencies," AIEE Trans., vol. 37,
pp. 65-89, Jan. 1918.
C. M. Ripley, Romance of a Great
Factory. Schenectady, NY: Gazette
Press, 1919.
J. W. Hammond, Men and Volts: the
Story of General Electric. Schenectady,
NY: General Electric Company, 1941.
"Hudson River power in the General Electric Works," Elect. World Engineer, vol. 43,
no. 24, pp. 1115-1119, June 11, 1904.
"The new dock street sub-station of
the Schenectady Railway Company,"
Gen. Electric Company Rev., vol. 2,
pp. 48-51, Jan. 1904.
"Hudson River power in Albany,
Troy and Schenectady," Elect. World
and Engineer, vol. 43, no. 20, pp. 905-
911, May 14, 1904.
J. A. Besha, "The historic Mechanicville hydroelectric station (Part 1),"
IEEE Ind. Applicat. Mag., vol. 13,
no. 1, pp. 8-11, Jan./Feb. 2007.
J. A. Besha, "The historic Mechanicville hydroelectric station (Part 2),"
IEEE Ind. Applicat. Mag., vol. 13,
no. 2, pp. 8-10, Mar./Apr. 2007.
J. A. Besha, "The historic Mechanicville hydroelectric station (Part 3),"
IEEE Ind. Applicat. Mag., vol. 13,
no. 3, pp. 9-11, May/June 2007.
G. Neidhöfer, "50-Hz frequency:
How the standard emerged from a European jumble," IEEE Power Energy Mag.,
vol. 9, no. 4, pp. 66-81, July/Aug. 2011.
p&e


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