Montreal power systems - Part I

[Trade Journal]

Publication: Electrical World and Engineer

New York, NY, United States
vol. 42, no. 23, p. 905-909, col. 1-2

Montreal, the Greatest Centre of Transmitted Power--I.





MONTREAL, Canada, consumes more electrically transmitted water power than any other city in the world. This power is drawn from three generating stations located on as many different rivers at distances that range up to about 85 miles from the central substation in the city. These rivers, the St. Lawrence, the Richelieu and the St. Maurice, draw their water supplies from half a continent. With the vast drainage area of the Great Lakes behind the St. Lawrence, the entire Champlain Basin between the Green and Adirondack Mountains to gather water for the Richelieu, and a great stretch of northern Canada to supply the St. Maurice River, the reliability of electrical supply from water power is assured in Montreal. The superlative capacity of the water-driven apparatus in this electrical supply system seems evident from a statement of the figures for the generating and sub-stations. At Chambly power house, on the Richelieu River, 17 miles by the transmission line from the central sub-station in Montreal, the combined capacity of the main electric generators is 16,800 kw. The Lachine power house, on the St. Lawrence, five miles from the sub-station just named, contains main generators of 6,000 kw total capacity. Both of these power plants are devoted exclusively to the operation of the Montreal system. Neglecting the total equipment of the great power house at Shawinigan Falls, on the St. Maurice River, which is operating under a head of 145 ft., and in which three turbines are installed at present, having a capacity of 6,000 hp each, and generators of 3,750 kw, and whence energy is transmitted 85 miles to a sub-station in the suburbs of Montreal, the capacity of transformers at this sub-station is 5,000 kw, and they require about 6,000 kw in generator capacity at the Shawinigan plant. The total rating of the present generators in water-power stations, devoted to electrical supply in Montreal, is thus 28,800 kw. This capacity will shortly be increased in two directions. A fifty-year contract requires the company operating the Shawinigan plant to deliver up to 20,000 hp for electrical supply in Montreal. Still another water power located at Soulanges, on the St. Lawrence, is about to be developed and transmitted for the city system.


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In anticipation of the increase of capacity at the water power -plants the sub-stations in Montreal have been equipped beyond immediate requirements. Besides that of the Shawinigan system already mentioned, there are two sub-stations in Montreal devoted to general electrical supply. At one of these, known as the McCord Street sub-station, the total capacity of transformers that receive the high-tension transmitted energy is 7,000 kw. In the main or central sub-station, the total capacity of transformers connected to the transmission lines is now 27,500 kw with room for an increase. Including the 5,000 kw at the Shawinigan sub-station, which is entirely devoted to the Montreal electrical supply system, save for one item of 250 hp, the combined capacity of stepdown transformers is thus 39,500 kw or 52,000 hp. It is safe to say that no other city on the American continent, or even in the world, has an equal capacity of stepdown transformers delivering energy from water powers to an electrical supply system for all purposes.

Besides the water-power plants and sub-stations already named, the system includes five steam power stations at as many points about the city and suburbs, with a combined capacity of 5,700 kw. These steam plants are in large part a legacy of former conditions, and are now held as a reserve for the water power system. The largest of these steam-driven stations, that on Queen Street, has a capacity of 2,400 kw, and has been remodelled and made fire-proof during the past year.




Electric light and power supply is distributed by the Montreal system in the city and island of that name for a distance of about fourteen miles along the river front, and to an average width of between three and four miles back from its bank. Included in the service area is a strip of territory about one mile wide and four miles long on the main land opposite to the city. Within this area there are at present served 11,152 customers using commercial arc and incandescent lamps, and 870 customers using motors, besides the cities and towns that are supplied with street lamps. The municipalities whose streets are lighted number fifteen, including Montreal, and all except two of these are on the island. The total connected load of street lamps numbers 1,717 of the arc and 577 of the incandescent type. Commercial lighting service is rendered to 11,152 customers, who have connected to the system 299,903 incandescent lamps, 1,514 arc lamps and 405 pieces of various apparatus, such as fans and heaters. Power service is rendered to no fewer than 87o consumers, who employ 'Jog electric motors with an aggregate capacity of 19,172 hp. From these figures it may be noted that the utilization of water powers has made the operation of motors an exceptionally important part of the business of the Montreal system. The commercial lamps above named, together with a part of the incandescent street lamps, are operated through 2,161 service transformers with an aggregate capacity of 13,249 kw. For the motor load 695 transformers with a total capacity of 6,980 kw are employed, but these transformers do not operate all of the connected motors, because many of these motors are of the direct-current type, and many of the alternating motors operate at the full voltage of distribution so that no transformers for them were required.


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This great system, which constitutes the only public supply of light and power in Montreal, has been welded together out of diverse elements. The Montreal Light, Heat and Power Company, the owner of the system, was incorporated by the Quebec Legislature in March, 1901, for the purpose of consolidating all the gas and electric companies doing business in the city. In conformity with this purpose the charter of the company authorizes it to acquire plants for the supply of gas, electricity or other source of light, heat or power, by purchase, lease or otherwise. Furthermore, the company may lease and operate all or any part of the plants of any other company engaged in the supply of light, heat and power, and may acquire and hold the stocks and bonds of any such corporation. When the Montreal Light, Heat and Power Company has acquired the plant of any other company engaged in similar lines of business, then the Montreal Company may exercise the charter rights and franchises of such other company. Besides the foregoing powers, the Montreal Company has the right to construct its pipes, lines and conduits under or over the public streets and highway of that city or of any place or territory within one hundred miles therefrom in any direction.


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Pursuant to these liberal and important powers the Montreal Light, Heat and Power Company acquired a majority of all the capital stock of each of the following named companies : The Montreal Gas Company, the Royal Electric Company, the Montreal & St. Lawrence Light & Power Company, the Imperial Electric Light Company, Ltd., the Lachine Rapids Hydraulic & Land Co., Ltd., the Standard Light and Power Company, the Citizens' Light & Power Company, Ltd., the Temple Electric Company. The Montreal Light, Heat and Power Company, together with the eight subsidiary companies just named, controls the entire supply of gas and electrical energy in that city and its suburbs. The dates of incorporation of these subsidiary companies are of interest as showing the great increase in public service that has resulted from the introduction of electrical supply and the application of water power therein. The Montreal Gas Company was incorporated in 1847, and engaged in the supply of gas in Montreal and its suburbs. In 1884 the Royal Electric Company was chartered to supply electrical energy in Mon-treal, and at the time of the consolidation