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As demand for electricity continues to grow, technological improvements are made to increase the capacity and efficiency of the distribution system. These include a new type of transformer, and the addition of a third circuit for street lighting. By 1905, there are 328 customers on the system, and the discount is increased to 30 percent.
North Street circa 1915, has gooseneck light fixtures and overhead wires. (Inset) North Street, 1994, with underground wires and new decorative lights.
Most of the old pine poles are replaced with chestnut poles, many of which are square. The new poles are less expensive, stronger and longer lasting than the ones they replace. ``A great deal of time has also been spent in repairing and repainting the 437 street fixtures, and thoroughly insulating the lines throughout the Town, thereby adding greatly to the appearance of the Plant," writes Manager Wallace Corthell.
Early electric meter, circa 1915.
The Plant begins day service so customers can use electricity for lighting on "dark days" and for increasingly popular new appliances such as fans, irons. sewing machines and water heaters. Electric motors are also in use for such purposes as "knitting and tagging factories, sawing wood, pumping water, churning butter, etc."
Keeping up with technology, the Plant replaces its carbon filament street lights with brighter tungsten lamps, ``affording a marked improvement in illumination, and one much appreciated by our citizens," according to Manager Wallace Corthell. A severe storm on December 26 destroys many poles in town, disrupting service on nearly every street. But thanks to a depreciation fund, resources are readily available to make all repairs.
Street light installed on Main Street in the Glad Tidings Plain area, circa 1920. Fixture has 1943 blackout bulb in it.
After considering the merits of building a generating station for many years, the Light Board concludes that it is more practical to continue to buy power for distribution. Ebed L. Ripley steps down from the Board as the remaining two original members, Frederic M. Hersey and Morris F. Whiton, announce their plans to retire next year. They note that they have achieved their goal, as stated at Town Meeting in 1892, of cutting the cost of lighting in half. Manager Wallace Corthell also retires after 19 years of service. ``I wish at this time to extend to the Board my sincere thanks for the uniform kindness that has been shown me during my long term of office," he writes.
A special rate is added for cooking just three cents per kilowatt-hour with a $1 minimum. The idea is to encourage the use of electric appliances during the day when electricity is plentiful.
When the utility's horse becomes ill, the Board decides to buy a Studebaker truck for $1,236 instead of another horse. This marks the beginning of the end for horse-drawn equipment. The utility has 870 customers.
Transmission lines to Weymouth are upgraded as growth picks up after World War I. The Eastern Massachusetts Street Railway abandons its system in Hingham, leaving the town with the responsibility of replacing many of its aging poles. By the end of the decade the Light Plant has more than 2,500 customers and rates are at an all-time low of eight cents per kilowatt-hour, with a two cents per kilowatt-hour prompt payment discount.
Hingham's Town Office Building, circa 1924, early site of Light Plant offices. Here, a giant elm comes down taking overhead wires with it.
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