Friday, June 29, 2018

A Little About Electric Power In Delmar

Delmar never had an electric power plant.  It obtained electricity from Laurel.  The timeline for electricity in the area goes somewhat like this; In 1899 The General Electric Company out of Baltimore purchased the grist mill of W. W. Twilley and co with the plans to establish an electric power plant in Laurel.  In March the franchise for electric power was forfeited and the Delaware Electric Company took over. In July the town of Laurel signed up for 52 lights to be provided on the streets of Laurel. In August, 1900 the power plant starts up and in December the old gas lights in Laurel were removed from Laurel with new electric ones replacing them.  The power lines were extended to Seaford and Delmar in 1902. In 1902, the power company asked for their first rate increase.

above putting in a utility pole about 1900, not Delmar, photo from Landsdale Historical society

1906 the Laurel-Seaford Electric Plant plans to extend the pole line to Bridgeville and Greenwood.  The company was purchased by Salisbury business men Wm M Cooper, J. D. Price, Wm T Johnson,F. Leonard Waller and Granville Bacon.  In 1909 it became Sussex Light and Powers company

In 1910 before recycling was a yuppie word the Sussex Light and Power company in Laurel utilized the sawdust and shavings from the Sam Bacon and sons and co milling plant / sawmill next to the power plant to feed the furnace to generate electricity.  They had large pipes driven by fans to blow the shavings from the mill directly to the furnace.

In 1911 the town of Delmar renewed the contract for five years. with Sussex light and Power Company.  At that time Dale Showell, Harry I. Richardson and Torbert Williams worked for the company in Delmar.

1915 consolidated the following power companies;

Sussex light and power company of Laurel, the Salisbury Heat and power Company, The Cambridge Maryland Gas and electric Company, the Georgetown Electric Company The Milton Del Electric Company and several smaller lighting and power companies.  The new company was the Eastern Shore Gas and Electric Company.  The company continued to expand adding smaller electric companies and changing it name as it went.  In 1966 it became Delmarva Power and Light Company.

John Downing, son of William J and Annie Downing from Delmar, went to work for the Salisbury Heat Light and Power Company.  In 1910 he graduated from a electrical school in Washington, DC. and returned to work for the power company.     

When the electric plant was first build it generated direct current, the same as the Delco power systems the farmers used outside of town.  The power also was only on from sunset to sunrise.  In 1912 the power was changed over to alternating current.  About 1913 it changed over to generating power 24 hour a day.  When people first used electricity it was mainly for lighting.  Beyond rewiring, there was little difference in the lighting fixtures for direct current versus alternating current, but the light bulb was another matter.  When the switch was made to alternating current many households who had not taken this problem under consideration and changed to ac light bulbs, had all their light bulbs burnt out when the new form of AC was switched over.

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