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The Co-Ordination of Electric Power Supply

    Naturevolume 101pages294295 (1918) | Download Citation



    THE report of the Committee appointed by the Board of Trade to consider the question of electric power has now been issued (Cd. 9062, price 3d.). Several of the questions the Committee had to consider have already been dealt with by the Coal Conservation Sub-Committee, the report of which was described in NATURE of January 3 and February 14 last. The report begins by the statement'of several general conclusions on which it bases its recommendations. The first of these is that after the war the success of British industry will depend to a large extent on the adoption of the most efficient methods and machinery, so that' manufacturing costs may be reduced to a minimum. In this connection the extension in the use of electric power supplied at the lowest possible price will be a most important factor. The present system of supply by separate authorities to small areas is economically unsound, and prevents the cheapening of the “supply. Hence a comprehensive system for the generation of electricity and, where necessary, for reorganising its supply should be established as soon as possible. With these statements every engineer is in agreement. If it had been possible to work on a clean slate, the devising of a suitable scheme under a central authority would have been comparatively easy. Owing, however, to the existence of the present patchwork system and the many conflicting interests which will have to be adjusted, the problem is one of considerable complexity. The Committee advises that a new body to be called the Electricity Commissioners be set up, to whom the existing powers of the Board of Trade relating to the supply of electricity be transferred. It recommends that the existing system of generating electricity for small areas be abolished. One of the first duties of the Electricity Commissioners would be to divide the country into districts technically suitable for the generation and distribution of electricity. In each district an Electricity Board is to be set up, which will purchase all the generating stations in it. These Electricity Boards are to be financed in whole or in part with Government assistance, and are to make no divisible profits. The Committee laudably strives to conciliate those authorities and engineers who are adversely affected by its proposals. It claims, however, extended powers for the use of overhead wires, wayleaves, and the acquisition of water rights. From the practical point of view the proposals are good, and their adoption, provided that they could be smoothly carried out, would be greatly in the national interests. We hope that Parliament will give to these proposals its most serious consideration.

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