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1950’s in Review

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  • The Washington Electric Co-op was alive and well in the 1950’s. Consumer demand was up for electrical appliances and so was the demand for electricity. The annual meetings were well attended, and were a source of community as well as business.
  • In the 1950’s, the Federal Hydro Project study was advocated by President Truman because New England and other Northeastern states had “the highest power rates for residential consumers.” The St. Lawrence Project was the single source, which could relieve the short supply and cost.
  • Prize winners at the Annual Meeting were:  bathroom scales– Mrs. Emma Duff, Mrs. Ralph Morgan, Mrs. Ruth Sargent; heating pad– Mrs. Clinton Sawyer, Mrs. Lewis Nelson; clock- – Lyle Felch, Berthold Coburn, Arthur Spooner; iron- – Anna Gendron, Norma Raymond; and coffee maker– Mrs. Stella Russell, Mrs. Andrew Warren
  • On May 14, 1950 the Orange Grange hosted a dinner for co-op employees to show off cooking with their new electric range.
  • The co-op occupied a newly constructed office by the end of 1950. This was the site of the former diesel plant, which was used in the early years to supply power.
  • During 1950, a new two-way radio system was installed. This enhanced the work of the line crew in restoring service and made safety of our crews an additional benefit.
  • During the afternoon of the 1955 Annual Meeting, members enjoyed a musical program put on by the Willie Wirehand Trio.  Mrs. George Hodge of Topsham was the grand prize winner of a new Preway electric range.
  • St. Lawrence Seaway Project in the 50’s
  • In 1953, Canada said that it would proceed on the St. Lawrence Seaway Project even without the help of the United States. This was after the Seaway Bill was killed in Congress on June 18, 1952. In 1954, President Eisenhower signed the Seaway Bill after 40 years of studies and litigation. Senator Prouty of Vermont introduced the project for a deepened channel to the Hudson River. The power development as of June 5, 1954, was still not settled. St. Lawrence/Niagara Power is pulling into the station with Vermont legislature and federal help. Low cost energy for the northeast is on the horizon!
  • August 10, 1954, witnessed ground breaking ceremony of the power project on the St. Lawrence Seaway at Messena, New York. Power is in the amount of 1 million horsepower.
  • By 1955, the Co-op served approximately 2,746 members, and operated 774 miles of line.
  • 1955-56, New York Governor Harrisman signed the contract allocating 100,000 KW, of St. Lawrence Power to Vermont.
  • In April 1957, the Vermont legislature passed S.72 allowing the Public Service Company to contract to bring St. Lawrence Power to Vermont.
  • Meanwhile, the Board considers developing the Wrightsville Dam as a power source for the co-op.
  • One of the more important business items taken up at the 1958 Annual Meeting was the adoption of the Cooperative’s bylaws.  These bylaws enabled the Cooperative to more readily conform to its status of being incorporated under the Electric Cooperative Act.
  • In June 1958, Washington Electric Co-op met with the Public Service Company to request a stock purchase of Velco (St. Lawrence Transmission). Thus, St. Lawrence Power began to flow in 1958.
  • Members also voted to petition the 1959 Vermont Legislature to enact legislation creating a Power Authority for the State of Vermont, with broad powers authorizing it to deal with facets of generating, transmitting and pooling of electric energy.  They voted to also petition the Legislature to examine existing contracts affecting St. Lawrence power rates.
  • In August 1959, there was a 1.5 cent rate for electric heating.
  • Co-op sponsors the Rural Queen contest for the annual meeting of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. Sandra Robertson of Moretown was the winner and she will represent the co-op at the NRECA annual meeting in February 1960.