History of HMLP

The Hingham Municipal Lighting Plant celebrates over a century of service to the people of Hingham. We’re proud of our utility’s 100-year tradition of local control and local service and are grateful for the opportunity to carry on that tradition. Thank you, Hingham!

1880 | 1890 | 1900 | 1910 | 1920 | 1930 | 1940 | 1950 | 1960 | 1970 | 1980 | 1990 | 2000 | 2010 | 2020

* Individual was appointed to fill Light Board vacancy and then duly elected for subsequent three year term(s).

1890s

1893:
Wallace Corthell appointed Plant Manager
Fredric M. Hersey, Morris F. Whiton and Ebed L. Ripley appointed to Light Board

The Town of Hingham votes to assume control of its own electric utility at Town Meeting.

1894:
George W. Burr appointed Plant Manager

The Town of Hingham takes control of its own electric utility, as directed by Town Meeting voters in two votes last year. All existing poles, wires, and other equipment are bought for $12,000 from Weymouth Light and Power Co., which continues to supply “current” to Hingham on a contract basis.

Under the direction of Manager Wallace Corthell, the new Hingham utility opens with 58 customers and 300 streetlights. More than $3,500 in repairs and upgrades to the system are immediately undertaken, resulting in higher voltage and better service.

Pictured: New lighting installed by the Light Plant in 1994 throughout the downtown area.

1895:
Wallace Corthell appointed Plant Manager

“The past year has been one of progress and smoothness,” reports Manager Wallace Corthell to the Light Board on December 31. The number of customers has more than doubled to 118. Streetlights now total 367, including 33 new lights installed at residents’ request in the Downer Avenue/Crow Point area. Nearly all lamps are lit all year, replacing the past practice of lighting most streetlights only during the summer months. Standard “moonlight” service is offered – electricity is available only during the evenings when there’s no bright moonlight.

Pictured: Workers at 176 Main St. installing overhead lines for the trolley system in 1896. Light Plant workers used similar wooden platforms for electric service.

1898: The utility now services 180 customers and maintains 391 streetlights. Older lamps have had their shades repainted to maintain a “neat appearance.” The cost of power, which was as high as 25 cents per kilowatt-hour in 1894, drops to 16 cents thanks to increased efficiencies and a growing number of customers. Next year, the 20 percent discount for prompt payment is increased to 25 percent.

1900s

1900: 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.

1906: 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.
1907: 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.”

1909: Keeping up with technology, the Plant replaces its carbon filament streetlights 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.

1910s

1911:
Albert M. Kimball appointed to Light Board

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.

1912:
Arthur M. Bibby appointed Plant Manager
William P. Boyd and John S. Bridges, Jr.* appointed to Light Board

1913:
Fred A. Atkins appointed Plant Manager

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.

1912: Edmund R. Grovenor* appointed to Light Board

1916: 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.

1920s

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.

1921: Bertram L. Beal appointed to Light Board

1922: Walter R. Whiting appointed to Light Board

1923: Frank H. Wright appointed to Light Board

1930s

1930: Chauncy W. Burr appointed Plant Manager

1931: Bertram L. Beal appointed Plant Manager

1932: Howard G. Jermyn* appointed to Light Board

1935: Despite the Great Depression, demand for electricity increases. The Light Board announces that customers can now choose an all-electric home at a very competitive cost. “The Board believes this should be a distinct help to real estate values,” they write in 1935. The Plant begins to sell electric ranges and other appliances to encourage daytime use.

1940s

1944: Supply restrictions caused by World War II make system improvements impossible, so the discount is doubled to reduce income. This continues through 1946, when the cost of coal rises, and other materials become scarce and expensive. During the War, many streetlights are turned off or replaced with special “black-out bulbs” to direct light straight down only.

Pictured: Streetlight installed on Main Street in the Glad Tidings Plain area, circa 1920. Fixture has 1943 blackout bulb in it.

1946: Willis B. Downey appointed to Light Board

1947: Chauncy W. Burr appointed to Light Board

1949: A new substation at Crow Point and Downer Avenue is energized on December 9, thus reducing the load in the South Hingham and East Weymouth substations. Underground circuits are installed in the North Street-South Street area, along with new mercury vapor streetlights. Hingham is one of the first towns in the state to use the new lights, which are brighter, last longer, and use less energy than the ones they replace.

1950s

1954: Hurricanes Carol and Edna cause $93,300 in destruction in 1954, including 75 miles of damaged lines.

1955:
Philip H. Holbrook appointed Plant Manager
Herbert W. Farrar appointed to Light Board

1956:
Clyde H. Curtis appointed Plant Manager
M. Tilghman Earle appointed to Light Board

Sales of electricity leap during the post-War building boom, reaching double digits most years. New equipment to handle the increase includes the Kilby Street substation completed in 1956.

1957: Eugene E. Bickford appointed to Light Board

1959: In 1959, the town transfers land on Cushing Street for a new substation. The same year, the “Little Red Schoolhouse” at Elm and Central Streets is transferred to the Light Plant for office space to relieve overcrowding at the Town Office Building.

1960s

1961: Charles H. Cushing, Jr.* appointed to Light Board

1965: Fire causes extensive damage to the Elm Street office but is quickly repaired thanks to full insurance coverage. Power costs are low, and total kilowatt-hour sales for commercial and residential customers have more than doubled since 1955.

1969: Robert H. Wescott appointed to Light Board

1970s

1970: Walter E. Morrison, Jr. appointed to Light Board

1972: William F. Stoehr* appointed to Light Board

1975: Laurence B. Stein, Jr. appointed to Light Board

1977: Walter E. Morrison, Jr. appointed to Light Board

Skyrocketing fuel costs make conservation and the wise use of energy a necessity. The community is asked to voluntarily reduce electric use during peak periods to hold down costs. Customer response is extremely positive, and peak energy use is held to 1976 levels.

1980s

1981:
Joseph R. Spadea, Jr. appointed Plant Manager
George W. Pierce* appointed to Light Board

An energy audit program is introduced to help homes. businesses and municipal buildings use energy wisely. The Plant invests $343,000 in energy-efficient sodium street lighting, making the streets of Hingham brighter while saving 439,000 kilowatt-hours a year.

1983: A. Patricia Granahan appointed to Light Board

1984: Willis M. Ertman appointed to Light Board

1986: Gerald E. Johnson appointed to Light Board

1988: Alton L. Horte, Jr. appointed to Light Board

The first step in a town-wide electric system upgrade is completed when the new Hobart Street substation is energized. The new higher voltage substation allows Hingham to receive power at 115,000 volts, which increases reliability and efficiency while lowering Hingham’s cost to receive power. By 1990, the final phase of the upgrade project is completed, with voltage raised throughout town to 13,800 volts.

1990s

1990: Kenneth E. Cham appointed to Light Board

Customer costs drop thanks to low fuel costs, low interest rates, and some $400,000 a year in savings from the new higher voltage system. By 1992, the town is saving some $25,000 per year in energy costs thanks to the efficient sodium streetlights installed in 1982.

Bills drop an average of 7.1 percent in 1992, are down 11.4 percent in 1993, and are projected to drop another 10 percent in 1994.

A state-of-the-art energy management system is planned to bring customers new and more comfortable ways to save energy, and to enable remote monitoring and control of distribution system equipment.

1995: Walter A. Foskett* appointed to Light Board

1997: Robert P. Whitney* appointed to Light Board

2000s

2000:
Christopher A. Cox appointed Plant Manager
John A. Stoddard, Jr. appointed to Light Board


2002:
Kevin J. Bulman appointed to Light Board

2003:
George W. Sampson, P.E. appointed Plant Manager

2004:
John G. Tzimorangas appointed Plant Manager

2010s

2011:
Paul Heanue appointed Plant Manager
John P. Ryan appointed to Light Board

2015:
David H. Ellison appointed to Light Board

Roger M. Freeman appointed to Light Board

2020s

2021:
Tom Morahan appointed Plant Manager

Laura M. Burns appointed to Light Board

HMLP began its partnership with Abode to offer customers comprehensive information on heat pumps. At the same time, HMLP launched its Heat Pump Program to offer residents rebates for installing heat pumps in their homes. 

2022:
Michael Reive appointed to Light Board

HMLP launches a new, responsive website design.

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