“The Lethbridge Waterworks and Electric Light Company (Limited)
Notice is hereby given that an application will be made to the Lieutenant Governor and Legislative Assembly of the North-West Territories at the next session thereof for an ordinance to incorporate a company to be called The Lethbridge Waterworks and Electric Light Company (Limited) for the following purposes:
To construct, equip and maintain at or in the vicinity of Lethbridge, in the District of Alberta, buildings, reservoirs, mains, pipes, poles and wire, machinery, contrivances and other devices for supplying water and furnishing electric light (or either of them) to Her Majesty, and to persons or corporations, with powers of access to, constructing works in and of drawing off the waters of the Belly River at any point or points that may be convenient for the purpose of the Company; with power to enter upon, break and dig up streets, roads, highways, lanes or public squares, and to lay mains and pipes, and erect poles and string wires, whether overhead or underground, thereon or thereunder, and with power to enter upon and make surveys of any lands in Townships 8 and 9, in Ranges 21 and 22, West of the Fourth Initial Meridian, in said Territories; and with power to expropriate any such lands or any part thereof that may be required by the Company, and to lay mains and pipes, and wires, thereon or thereunder, under the authority of and subject to the conditions imposed by a Judge of the Supreme Court of the North-West Territories to be authorized for such purposes, with power of said Company, its Directors, or Provincial Directors, to open Stockbooks, and procure subscriptions of stock, to issue bonds and debentures, and paid-up stock shares in the capital of the Company; and for all other usual necessary or desirable rights, privileges and powers.
C. C. McCaul
Lethbridge, N.W.T., Solicitor for the Applicant.
1st August, 1890
Lethbridge News, August 6, 1890”
THE POWER PLANT
On October 5th, 1893, electric lights were turned on for the first time in Lethbridge. On August 29th, 1894, power poles were erected at the Henderson House.
The reality of Lethbridge as a power centre was born before the turn of the century. A small power plant was opened in the fall of 1893 by Waterworks and Electric Light Company after considerable delay. This company had wanted to proceed steadily and under “favourable auspices” of the community.
On September 1st, 1908 the City of Lethbridge purchased the Lethbridge Electric Company power plant and its supplies. Following this transfer of ownership, the City’s electrical department assumed the responsibility of providing power to a growing population, which demanded power in increasing quantities.
Plans to build a more powerful generating station at the river bottom hastened after a fire destroyed the old power plant on December 31st, 1909. After two weeks without electrical lighting, power was restored to the city with the official opening of the new plant by Mayor Adams.
Following adjustments to the new electrical equipment, and following moderate financial losses during its first months of operation, the new power plant provided reliable and efficient power to Lethbridge residents for several decades. Beginning in 1932, more powerful steam and gas turbines replaced the original coal-fired generators. By 1969, it became more profitable for the City to purchase some of its power from Calgary Power. Finally, in 1972, the City closed its doors to the Power Plant and sold the Plant’s working parts to various buyers.
In 1910, 160 streetlights were placed along main streets throughout Lethbridge. This “Great White Way” as described by the Lethbridge Herald, provided safety and direction to those walking the streets after dark. These Incandescent Lights were bare bulbs in an inverted ‘saucer type” reflector. Originally only one light was found at each intersection, hung on a 30’ pole, which carried both trolley wires and streetlights. The following two years round globe lights, approximately eight inches in diameter, were added to the downtown streetscape. The design remained the same until the 1950s, when incandescent bulbs were slowly replaced with Mercury Vapor Lights. These lights were not only less expensive, but also more energy-efficient. Lethbridge was the first city in Canada to use Mercury Vapor and won national recognition in 1963 for its streetlight system.
In 1981, a Cost Benefit Analysis Study was completed and a decision made to replace Mercury Vapor with High Pressure Sodium Lights. 5,452 fixtures were replaced with 100, 150, 200, 250 & 400 watt high pressure sodium light bulbs that would burn for longer than 20,000 hours and required replacement approximately every five years. Photo Electric Cells automatically turn them on at dusk and off in the morning. The cells are located on the first light from the circuit source and the message is then relayed down the series line.
In 2001, responsibility for street lights moved to the Transportation Department which manages the system today. The wires from the transformer and linking the lights remain the responsibility of the Electric Utility.
From 1912 to 1947, Lethbridge’s public transportation system depended on the city’s electrical power supply.
During its peak, the Lethbridge Municipal Railway operated 10 streetcars on four lines, comprising 10.5 miles of track.
The Electric Utilities Act was enacted in 1995. Amendments to the EUA in 1998 (bill 27) legislated that city-owned utilities could compete in the new market only as a separate corporation and operated at arms length from the city. As a City Utility, Lethbridge can purchase power only from the Power Pool of Alberta. Retail Choice for most customers took place January 1, 2001. Following that regulation, the Electric Utility is allowed to provide energy solely under the Regulated Rate and Default Supply Regulation and must follow a prescribed rate structure. All Lethbridge customers have the option to purchase their energy requirements through the retailer of their choice. One of the overall driving challenges for the Electric utility is balancing the stringent role of Wire Services Provider with that of consumer advocate for Lethbridge citizens and customers - on the both the wires and the energy sides of the business. We strive to build and maintain a strong and successful relationship with our many business partners. We take pride in a dependable and reliable system. We advocate for the protection of an efficient and cost effect system.
LETHBRIDGE ELECTRIC UTILITY TODAY
As a Wires Services Provider, the Electric Utility has 5 core business areas including Transmission, Distribution, Operations, Technical support and Rates and Regulatory.
The physical plant includes:
•41 km of transmission line
•2095 km of underground line
•460 km of overhead line
•369 km of fibre circuits
83 full time employees work to provide service to 38,800 customers including 121 large industrial services and almost 3600 commercial ventures. Lethbridge is a "summer peaking" community with a total peak load of 165 MW.