chapter  5
36 Pages

Electricity Supply Systems

For virtually every American and citizens of developed nations around the world the impact of electric power on their lives is pervasive. The National Academy of Engineering named electrification the greatest engineering achievement of the twentieth century. The development of the electric grid actually began in the previous century. The first use of generated electricity was a hydropower plant completed in 1868 on the estate of English industrialist William Armstrong. The electricity was used to power early incandescent light bulbs developed by the English inventor John Swan, as well as heat water and run various devices. Thomas Edison made improvements to Swan’s light bulbs, and his success spurred him to build the first two public power stations: the Edison Electric Light Station in London and, a few months later, the Pearl Street Station in lower Manhattan. Both employed coal firing to power DC (direct current) electric generators.