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Construction of New Plant with the Old Brick Church in the Background

Marshall Hodgeman is atop the sub-station watching the tanks go in place

From the November 28, 1939 Burlington Free Press and Times:

The local project is the second cooperative in the state for electrical purposes, Lowell in the northern part of Vermont, being the first with over 100 miles of distribution lines. These towns, East Montpelier and Calais, were not wholly without electricity before the new project, as lines ran along the main roads on state route number 12, from East Montpelier to Hardwick, and along U. S. route number 2, from Montpelier through Plainfield. But these lines failed to send the current far from their trunk lines because of the great cost. When the REA was first organized, the cost of wiring per mile was reckoned at $1,500 and it takes a power company a long time to begin to reap a profit at that rate, but now the cost has been reduced to slightly over $810 per mile and the extension will go rapidly forward.

The method of securing electricity by federal aid is for farmers to organize into a cooperative, then seek a loan through the REA. The next step is to select an engineer to draw up specifications for the job. The engineer’s plans must be sent to Washington for approval after which the cooperative asks for bids on the work. An engineer is sent out from headquarters in Washington to look after the work and see that the lines are properly constructed.

70 Square Miles Affected

In the case of the job nearly-completed an area of about 70 square miles is concerned. The project extends from Montpelier, north to include North Calais and extends into Marshfield, a distance of 11 by 6 miles in all. There are about 55 miles of distribution wires. In the spring it is hoped to add from 50 to 100 miles, to extend into the towns of Middlesex, Cabot and Plainfield.

Wiring contractors from East Montpelier to Peacham are all so busy wiring the 150 houses that want electricity under the new system, that for several months it has been almost impossible to hire any small jobs done in this vicinity. Not all of the whole number of buildings are in readiness at the present date to receive the juice at the first turn of the switch, but all are expected to be ready to be supplied with it at some time in December. The new power house contains a diesel-generated plant, capable of being expanded to six times its present capacity.

The two men from Washington who have been staying on the ,job and looking after details since its start are Capt. Clarke Millen supervising engineer, and C. P. Lewis, who has been in charge of construction and assembling the power plant.

Heading the Washington Electric Cooperative is the following board of directors, leading men in their community: E. H. Kelley, president,, Roy H. Sibley, vice president, Lyle P. Young, secretary-treasurer. Lynn Nelson, Clarence Fitch, all of East Montpelier, and Alex M. Robinson, Adamant, Howard Lackey, John Graham and Sydney Morse, all of Calais.

From Candles To Electricity

It is of interest to know that the farm of H. W. Vincent in East Montpelier, which has been wired, is occupied by the grandson of the settler, Harry Vincent, and the same house which knew tallow candles and kerosene lamps will now, in the third generation, have the benefit of modern electricity. Also the house of Lyle P. Young, fourth in descent from Solomon Dodge, a first settler, and in the same location, though a part of the house was destroyed by fire a number of years ago, has had a Delco lighting system for the last 30 years, but has now been changed over to the cooperative system.