The Institute - December 2021 - 62

TECH HISTORY
The Birthplace
of the AC Grid
Folsom Powerhouse was the first to transmit
power over long distance
BY JOANNA GOODRICH
BACK IN THE 1800s, electricity distribution
was a short-range business,
driven by nearby DC generators. That
changed in 1895. On 13 July of that year,
the Folsom Powerhouse, in California,
became the first facility to send
high-voltage alternating current over
long-distance transmission lines. It
brought electricity to Sacramento over
a 35-kilometer-long distribution line
using newly invented AC generators and
hydroelectric power.
The facility generated three-phase
60 Hz AC electricity-the standard in
the United States today-and powered
Sacramento businesses such as Buffalo
Brewing, as well as the California
State Capitol building and the city's
streetcars.
On the 126th anniversary of the
achievement, 13 July, the Folsom Powerhouse
was commemorated with an IEEE
Milestone. The IEEE Sacramento Valley
Section sponsored the nomination.
Administered by the IEEE History
Center and supported by donors,
the Milestone program recognizes
outstanding technical developments
around the world.
Stepping into industry
Horatio Gates Livermore moved from
Maine to California in 1850 during the
Gold Rush in pursuit of riches, according
On 13 July 1895, the Folsom Powerhouse
successfully transmitted high voltage
alternating current to Sacramento,
Calif., from its two newly invented AC
generators. Now an IEEE Milestone, the
facility is a state historic park.
62
THE INSTITUTE
DECEMBER 2021
WIRESTOCK/ALAMY
https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=501 https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=23366 https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=23366 https://capitolmuseum.ca.gov/ https://capitolmuseum.ca.gov/ http://ieeemilestones.ethw.org/Main_Page http://ieeemilestones.ethw.org/Main_Page https://www.ieee-region6.org/sv/ https://www.ieee-region6.org/sv/ http://www.ieee.org/about/history_center/index.html http://www.ieee.org/about/history_center/index.html https://www.ieeefoundation.org/donate_history https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=1340

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