Publication: Western Electrician
Chicago, IL, United States
Of the National Electric Light Association
at Niagara Falls, June 8, 9
and 10, 1897.
The twentieth annual convention of the National Electric Light association at Niagara Falls will linger in memory for many years as one of the most notable gatherings the association has held. The papers presented bore on subjects of marked interest, and brought out earnest and instructive discussion. The unusually large attendance was another evidence of the vigor of the association.
The headquarters of the association were in the International Hotel, and it was there Secretary Porter had his office, which was opened early for the registry of the members and for the purpose of dispensing information to all who desired it. The weather on Tuesday and Wednesday was wet and cloudy, but the final day of the convention dawned brighter, and afforded opportunity for pleasant drives to the various points of interest about the Falls.
In advance of the opening session of the convention the executive committee held a meeting, and it was 10:45 A. M. on Tuesday, June 8th, when President Nicholls sounded the gavel calling the convention to order. He invited First Vice-president Henry Clay of Philadelphia and ex-Presidents Armstrong and Ayer to the platform, after which he read letters from the Niagara Falls Power company, the Niagara Falls Hydraulic Power & Manufacturing company, the Buffalo and Niagara Falls Electric Light & Power company, the Carborundum company, the American Telephone & Telegraph company, and from B. E. Greene, rental agent of the Grand Central Palace, New York. Letters of regret were received and read from Prof. Edward L. Nicholls of Cornell University; Sir William Dawson, McGill University, Montreal; Prof. Henry T. Boves, Montreal, and from Lord Kelvin of Glasgow University, Glasgow, Scotland. A letter from William S. Aldrich of West Virginia University was also read.
President Nicholls then delivered his address, which was listened to with close attention, and his remarks were frequently applauded.
PRESIDENT NICHOLLS' ANNUAL ADDRESS.
In arriving at a decision as to the most suitable place at which to hold the twentieth convention of the National Electric Light association, the executive committee and your president were guided largely by the desire to select a spot where our members could have some practical illustration of the most recent advances in electrical development as applied to everyday commercial use on an extended scale.
Niagara Falls, N. Y., appeared to offer superlative inducements as our place of meeting, judged by this standard, and was accordingly given the preference; and with a knowledge of the programme that has been prepared for the instruction of our members and the many interesting features for the entertainment of themselves and their friends, I am confident that before the close of the convention those present will unanimously be of the opinion that our choice was wisely made.
When we consider that only five years since many of us were in attendance at the fifteenth convention of the association held in Buffalo, and were listening to the discussion which followed Dr. Carl Hering's paper on "Transmission of Power," and that even the most sanguine of us but little imagined that in half a decade we should be holding our twentieth convention at Niagara Falls, principally with the object of seeing and realizing the actual application of motive power derived from the Falls to some of the most novel and most important industries of the country, we face a wonderful accomplishment. To "harness Niagara" had long been a dream, but is now an actuality; and who can tell the resultant progress and advancement that we may be destined to celebrate within the next few years?
There is no parallel in history for such rapid development of any industry as that of the manufacture of electrical apparatus and its application, or to be strictly correct, and quote an ex-president of the association, M. J. Francisco, who is an authority on the subject, the only parallel was when the world was created in six days out of nothing. Five years ago we were discussing the possibilities of transmitting power in small units to moderate distances. To day the problem is solved, and innumerable installations are transmitting power in large quantities for long distances, and yet we have only crossed the threshold.
In this connection I am of the opinion that the lecture to be given to-morrow evening by L. B. Stillwell will serve as a tidal mark. At the Buffalo convention we occupied ourselves in discussing the possibility or otherwise of transmitting Niagara power to Buffalo; Mr. Stillwell's paper will set forth the various applications of Niagara power at the present time, including transmission to Buffalo; and future presidents of this association will in all probability refer to his paper and draw comparisons when adverting to the strides which will then have been made in the wider utilization of this mighty power which for countless ages has been simply running to waste, so far as any economic use is concerned and apart from its value as the greatest scenic wonder in the world.
I fully appreciate the honor of presiding at this meeting, which, for the reasons I have just referred to, will be embodied in the annals of the association as marking an historic epoch in the advancement of the science of electricity as applied to industry, and it is therefore with more than ordinary satisfaction that I am authorized to state that at no previous period has this association been so prosperous, shown greater vitality or commanded such respect. It is now an acknowledged authority on matters electrical; its membership confers a privilege that has more than a sentimental value and its gathering strength will offer a bar to use of powers municipal or corporate unjustly or arbitrarily directed for the purpose of destroying the capital investment of those who look to it for protection.
In union is strength and to-day our membership numbers more active members than ever before, and the financial statement to be presented in due course by the chairman of the finance committee will show that, after making provision for all expenditures necessary to maintain the usefulness of the association, an unusually large credit balance is at your disposal.
It is certainly cause for congratulation that increasing prosperity has been followed by an access of dignity and influence, and the more recent meetings have been remarkable for the greater interest that has been taken in the actual work of the association, and the lesser attention that has been given to the merely social and entertainment features of the programme.
The desire to make the twentieth convention notably a business meeting has so far predominated that we have neither asked nor accepted any favors other than from the electric power companies and several of the manufacturing establishments using electric power for the operation of their works.
Although several delightful and interesting excursions have been arranged for, the association has made, on behalf of its members, a business-like arrangement for the several trips and excursions set forth in the programme of the convention, preferring to pay our way rather than tax the courtesy of the transportation and other companies by accepting "dead-head" privileges. In view of the fact that I have had occasion to communicate with our members from time to time during the past year by the issuance of printed "interim reports" referring to the work undertaken by your executive, it is unnecessary to give an account of my stewardship in this address, but I may say that many matters of urgent importance are pressing for settlement, and these will doubtless receive the most careful attention at your hands during the next few days.
The list of papers to be read at this convention is an exceptionally good one, and the authors are of more than continental reputation, and I therefore trust that our members will show their appreciation of the care and study given to the preparation of these papers by being present in force at every session and taking an active part in the discussions that will ensue. Notwithstanding the progress that has been made in the perfection of apparatus and the application of new principles, there never was a time when there was more to learn than now, and no more fitting occasion is likely to present itself to us to familiarize ourselves with the latest procedure in our chosen profession, and the papers to be read and the discussions thereon will find hundreds of thousands of readers and students, thanks to the electrical journals, of which we are all justly proud.
No other art, science, industry or profession has been so well and faithfully served by an enlightened and progressive technical press as our own, and who can estimate the fair share of credit justly their due for the part they have taken in aiding and advancing the introduction of electromotive force in its many and varied applications?
As we have a lengthy programme before us and several important reports of committees to receive and discuss before we adjourn for mid-day recess, I now declare the twentieth convention of the National Electric Light association opened and ready for the transaction of business.
The committee on data proceeded to report through H. M. Swetland, chairman, who read a synopsis of the report, and explained that there was much to contend with in the work. The committee was discharged with thanks to the chairman.
The report of the committee on finance was listened to, it being presented by the chairman, John A. Seely. It showed that the association has no liabilities, with surplus assets amounting to over $2,500. President Nicholls congratulated the members on the showing, and remarked that while he did not see any advantage in an association of this kind accumulating a large fund or a credit balance, he was gratified to think that the association was in such shape that if any opportunity for good work arose to help onward the interests of the active members, the central station members, that the organization had the wherewithal with which to undertake such work.
Capt. William Brophy's report from the committee on rules for safe wiring was presented on Tuesday afternoon, reciting the work of the national conference of electrical, insurance and architectural interests and recommending that the new "standard electrical code" be adopted. In the brief discussion that followed, Capt. Brophy's well known and long-continued efforts in this direction were highly praised, and then the new code was adopted by a unanimous vote.
At the last session of the convention the report of the committee on standard candle power of incandescent lamps was presented by James I. Ayer of Boston, in the absence of Dr. Louis Bell, the chairman. This important subject was discussed at some length; the report was accepted and its recommendations adopted, and the committee was continued.
PLACE OF NEXT MEETING.
Invitations for the convention of 1898 were received from Omaha, Indianapolis, Old Point Comfort, Va., Montreal, New York and Nashville, Tenn. Prof. R. B. Owens, representing the Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition, spoke for Omaha, and Mr. Evans Woollens addressed the convention in behalf of Indianapolis, speaking particularly for the Commercial Club of that city. All invitations were referred to the executive committee for future action.
THEFT OF CURRENT AND HOW TO DEAL WITH IT.
This topic was taken up on Tuesday afternoon and developed an interesting discussion, in which the president, T. C. Martin, Mr. Ayer, Mr. Young, Mr. Stetson, Mr. Barker, Mr. Engel, Mr. Beggs, Mr. Clay and Judge Armstrong took part. Mr. Martin stated that a bill to reach this evil had become a law in Connecticut, and Mr. Young of Waterbury explained its provisions. Messrs. Stetson and Barker spoke of the Massachusetts law. Mr. Engel stated that a bill been introduced in the Legislature of Michigan. Mr. Beggs reported that the law in Ohio was somewhat indefinite, and told of the case of a saloon-keeper who stole current from his company. "It was a saloon in which we never even had furnished the current," said Mr. Beggs. "The man had been cut off for non-payment of bills by one of our competitors. Our lines happened to cross near the rear end of his premises. He threw out a grappling hook and got connection on there and lighted his place for several months in that way. There was really no law in the state of Ohio, unless we prosecuted upon the charge of tapping wires under a law that was passed for the protection of race-courses and things of that kind. There isn't anything for electric lighting companies."
There was some further discussion, during which Judge Armstrong said:
If we are to do anything in the line of legislation, I think it ought to be in this: to pass bills to prevent frauds upon lighting, water and power companies, say, and let it apply to any person who by any device or contrivance seeks to deprive them of their revenue or interfere with their apparatus, and so on; not by any act of ours recognizing that up to this time it has been no violation of the common law to take current or to take power; that up to this time it has been no offense, and is only an offense now because the Legislature in its wisdom has said so. I am not willing to admit that. I do not think that any of us ought to be willing to admit that. But we can with propriety, if it is thought advisable, recommend legislation to prevent frauds against these companies, the same as they have to prevent frauds against railroad companies in some places.
After listening to Judge Armstrong's speech, the association on motion empowered the president to appoint a committee of three to draft a uniform bill on this subject, to be passed in the different states requiring such legislation, if possible. Later on the chair appointed James I. Ayer of Boston, Judge Armstrong of Camden, N. J., and Senator Foster W. Voorhees of Elizabeth, N. J.
PAPERS AND DISCUSSIONS.
J. B. Cahoon's paper on "The Establishment of a Base Price for Current," or "Standardizing Prices for Incandescent Light and Power," as it was announced in the convention, was the first to be presented. In the discussion Mr. Beggs advocated the use of uniform blanks in central stations.
The important subject of "Municipal Lighting" was considered in a brief paper read by W. Worth Bean of St. Joseph, Michigan. The discussion was opened by Henry L. Doherty of Madison, Wis., who urged the serious consideration of the subject. Mr. Beggs of Cincinnati followed in the same strain. He said that they all wanted reliable data, and suggested that an expert be employed by the association to secure and compile the figures.
On Wednesday morning J. G. White of New York read a carefully prepared paper on the "Niagara Power Transmission Line." This was a practical and timely paper, and the members evinced their interest by a long discussion.
Next came Arthur Wright's paper on "Profitable Extensions of Electricity Supply Stations." Mr. Wright's home is in Brighton, England, where he is president of a central station company. He was cordially received, and took part in a lively commercial discussion, in which Messrs. Ferguson, Insull,