Monday, November 17, 2014

Getting Electricity to the 85 Percent of American Farms That Do Not Have It, 1935

“Rural Electrification” by Roy H. Park in the November, 1935, issue of Carolina Co-operator

Versatile servant that it is, electricity can perform many services on the farm. And farmers all over the State are anxious to get power lines. If you don’t believe this just go up to Dudley Bagley’s office in Raleigh and watch the delegates pour in.

Only 15 percent of the farms in America have electric facilities.

Only 15 percent have water piped into the house.

And only 20 percent have radios.

The above are government percentages—percentages that the government has set out to hoist with the leverage power being supplied by the Rural Electrification Authority and its fund of $100,000,000 appropriated by Congress.

Figures for North and South Carolina are not available, but there is no reason to believe that the percentage of farms having electrical facilities is any higher in the Carolinas—if as high—than it is in the other states of the nation.

The man who has charge of the work of harnessing electricity and bringing it into the farm homes of North Carolina as a versatile servant is Dudley E. Bagley, a farmer who has operated his farm at Moyock in such a manner that not so long ago one of the national farm magazines sent a writer there to interview him and then devoted three pages to what he had accomplished.

And Mr. Bagley is not unacquainted with the value electricity can be to the farmer. For years a Delco plant supplied him with electric current and only recently was “juice” from a power company substituted. Incidentally, Mr. Bagley installed his own Delco plant, even to the wiring, and the power company’s expert pronounced it an A-1 job when he came around to inspect the wiring prior to connecting the power line.

One Line Built

Electricity is already sizzling through the wires of one rural electrification project completed about two months ago under the supervision of the North Carolina Rural Electrification Authority. This line is in Orange County and extends out into the country about 10 miles east of Carrboro and for the time being will serve some 29 families, although within a few months as many as 40 families are expected to be served by it. A second line is now in construction in Wilson County.

And how, you ask, can a community start getting electric service?

The first step is simply a question of finding out if the community can use enough current to measure up to the requirements of the Federal program. That is: The income from the new line during its first year must be equal to 20 percent of the total cost of the extension. The average cost of constructing rural power lines has been estimated at a little over $1,000 per mile.

A number of communities in North Carolina have already been surveyed to determine whether or not the demand for current is sufficient to meet the federal requirement. If your community has not been surveyed, and you want the convenience of electricity, you are advised to write to the Rural Electrification Authority, Raleigh, N.C., for survey blanks.

“In starting a movement to get a power line, it must be realized that lights alone are not profitable,” Mr. Bagley said.

“The rural home gets a reasonable rate by using enough electrical appliances such as refrigerators and motors. For under the Federal program the gross income from all the consumers on the line for the first year must amount to 20 percent or one-fifth of the total charge of the extension. Thus a minimum charge per month is paid by each user and all these charges together should in a year make up one-fifth of the cost of the extension.

“If only lights were used, this minimum charge would not make lights very economical, but since this minimum charge allows the use of more current per month than lights would take, it is possible to use current for perhaps a refrigerator, an iron, and a water pump without paying over the minimum charge. If still more current is needed than the minimum charge provides for, the extra cost will usually be small.”

Under the plan the Rural Electrification Authority will advance government money to communities for use in building extension lines. However, Mr. Bagley said, that it now appears as though the main power companies will be willing to build a larger number of these lines.

Mr. Bagley made the point clear that the government is not “handing out” this money, but that it expects all loans to be repaid and must be satisfied that they will be repaid before a loan is granted.

The Authority will also lend money to consumers for the purchase of such electrical appliances of ranges, refrigerators, and water heaters, and of electrical farm machinery.

What Electricity Can Do

Electricity will be an invaluable service to the farm homes of North Carolina.

Ten cents worth of electric energy at 10 cents per KWH, according to an electrical expert, will do any one of the following:

Pump 1,200 gallons of water.

Wash clothes for family of five for three weeks.

Cook tow meals for a family of five.

Operate the household refrigerator two days.

Operate a 75-watt lamp 44 hours.

Milk a cow for three days.

Cool 40 gallons of milk a day.

Hoist 10 tons of hay.

Grind 400 pounds of feed.

Run a 200-egg incubator three days.

Run a 200-chick brooder two days.

Warm 2 gallons poultry water for 60 hours.

Grade 400 bushels of apples.

Wash 600 bushels of apples.

Grade 1,500 bushels of potatoes.

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