IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - January/February 2016 - 114

load was transferred to ac. There was also
increased load due to new appliances and
other devices purchased by ac customers.
It would appear that, upon the opening of
the Hudson Avenue station, the frequency
in southern Brooklyn was changed to the
U.S. standard of 60 Hz, a necessity as
electric clocks and new ac motors entered
the market. The 62.5-Hz Union plant entered a period of reserve status and was
effectively retired.
In time, the Hudson Avenue station
also assumed the load of Queens to allow capacity at the United Electric Light
and Power Company's Hell Gate station
in the Bronx to be diverted to Manhattan.
That shift was part of an adroit pooling
of overall capacity to improve system
efficiency and avoid the construction
of two additional stations, one of which
had been designed (with land acquired)
in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn.
That cancellation also improved the economic stability of the companies during
the depression of the 1930s.

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1 & energy magazine

The changeover of customers from dc
to ac reduced the number of substations
from a total of 18 in 1923 to three in 1943.
Those three were rated at 9,200-kW total
capacity, and batteries had been eliminated entirely. The Gold Street station was
put on reserve status during the Depression as new frequency changers supplied
the 25-Hz load from the 60-Hz capacity of
Hudson Avenue. It was reopened to meet
peak winter demand when the economy
improved in the late 1930s. A steam tie
line enabled rapid restarting without the
time required to restart cold boilers.
In 1943, the Brooklyn Edison Company became the first of several companies
to merge formally into Con Ed, which
had been formed in 1936 by a merger of
Manhattan and Bronx companies with
their parent Consolidated Gas Company
Brooklyn still continued to be a major
player in the city utility scene. The 25Hz system had tie lines with the Brooklyn Manhattan Transit Company system
that powered its rapid transit and streetcar
lines. The utility also provided power to
Long Island Rail Road substations.
The Union plant was eliminated in
1943, but Gold Street continued to support a minimal load as dc load declined.
It was finally retired in 1963 after rectifiers in street vaults replaced the last
substation in downtown Brooklyn that
carried only 1,000 kW of dc load. Hudson Avenue remained a generating station until a reduction of capacity in the
1970s that followed the operation of a
pair of nuclear stations and new coal
fired capacity north of the city.

Legacy
Brooklyn was also a prototype for developments in Manhattan. Upon election to
head the power companies in Manhattan,
Sloan used his experience in Brooklyn to
manage the change of the New York Edison distribution system and dc customers
to a 60-Hz ac network concept developed
by the United Company. Many years later,
the use of street vault rectifiers to replace
substations was initiated in Manhattan in
1964 with the last dc substation in Manhattan retired in 1977. The story does not
end there. In Brooklyn, as in Manhattan,
the system had to adapt to new load pat-

23/03/13 10:38 AM

terns as well as growth and expansion
mid-century. The rapid adoption of airconditioning in the 1950s taxed utilities
everywhere; in one well-publicized 1955
incident during a heat wave, perforated
garden hoses were placed in underground
ducts in downtown Brooklyn to act as
sprinklers to cool overheated cables.
Brooklyn is one of the hottest residential areas in the nation, with new high-rise
buildings constructed annually. To meet
the present market's increasing demand
and legislative restrictions on new capacity will try the skills of the engineers at
Con Ed and independent power providers just as the engineers of a century ago
were tried by the unknowns of largescale operation and ac power. To succeed
in that challenge, the engineers of today
and the future will have to be, intellectually, the Thomas E. Murray and Matthew
S. Sloan of the 21st century.

For Further Reading
"The Brooklyn Edison system: Generating stations and character of load in
City of Churches," Elect. World, vol.
57, no. 21, pp. 1305-1321, May 1911.
"Hudson Avenue station," Elect. World,
vol. 83, no. 18, pp. 867-876, May 1924.
"Sloan made president of New York
Edison," Elect. World, vol. 92, no. 9, p.
423, Sept. 1928.
J. J. Cunningham, "Architect of power:
Thomas E. Murray and New York's electrical system," IEEE Power Energy Mag.,
vol. 10, no. 2, pp. 80-94, Mar.-Apr. 2012.
J. J. Cunningham, "An ac pioneer:
United Electric Light & Power Company," IEEE Power Energy Mag., vol.
11, no. 3, pp. 84-98, May-June 2013.
M. S. Sloan, "Phenomenal growth
in Brooklyn," Elect. World, vol. 81, no.
21, pp. 1199-1202, May 1923.
J. J. Cunningham, New York Power.
New Brunswick, NJ: IEEE History Center Press, 2013.
T. E. Murray, Electric Power
Plants: A Description of a Number of
Power Plants Designed by Thomas Edward Murray. New York, 1910.
T. E. Murray, Applied Engineering. New
York: The Ferris Printing Company, 1928.
p&e
january/february 2016


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IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - January/February 2016 - Cover3
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