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Remembering the introduction of Electricity into Emmitsburg

(Originally published November 15, 1912 in the Emmitsburg Chronicle)

After Many Years of wise planning and waiting project has now become assured. Current will be furnished by Large Plant at Security and Sold to Residents of Emmitsburg and Vicinity by Local Stock Company. Streets of Emmitsburg will be Electrically Lighted.

When the project of an electric light and power service for Emmitsburg was brought up a year or two ago, it seemed as if the only way such a service would be purchased was to build a small plant here of a size to meet the local demand for power and light as estimated. After careful consideration plans for a plant operated by an engine run by fuel, oil or gas produced from a cheap grade of anthracite coal, were figured on. The estimated cost of such a plant, taken together with the necessary poles, wiring and other accessories was about $7,500. Such a plant, running from late in the evening, with perhaps a short run in the early morning for six months in the year, it was thought would sell electric power for about 20c. a kilowatt hour or about 1\2 cent an hour for an ordinary light and still make ends-meet and have a reasonable profit on the money invested.

It was hoped that as more people took the service and the amount of power sold was increased this price might be reduced somewhat. On this basis subscription books for stock in a local electric light and power company were opened and more than fifty of the citizens of Emmitsburg subscribed. Just at this time, however, the plans for the construction of a large power house at Security, near Hagerstown which would be capable of supplying all of Western Maryland included in Frederick and Washington counties, were apparently coming to be realized. In this connection it was pointed out that Emmitsburg could have a much better and cheaper electric service if it were supplied from such a plant instead of from a little local plant, which could not afford to run all day on any business now in sight here, and which would always be subject to the uncertainties of gas or oil engines in its operation. Power from the large plant would be on hand day and night and all the growth of business that might come to the local company would be taken care of.

Upon the assurance from responsible parties that electricity from the Security plant would be offered at a rate under what a local plant could provide it for and that such a service would be ready in a "few months." It was thought wisest to await further developments in that direction instead of putting hard earned dollars in a local plant which soon might be dispensed with.

All this was in 1910. Since that time many things have happened. Among them, and of immediate interest to Emmitsburg was the fact that the people interested in the building of the power plant at Security, struck many a snag and are only today getting their plans into realization. Without going into details as to how it all happened, it is a fact that from time to time the project was thrown out of joint, and it is only now that it may be safely stated that power from the plant will be ready for distribution early in the coming year.

Till this time it seemed as though the only thing for those interested in the local plans to do was to float along and wait until the situation was mended or ended.

It is now a pleasure to be able to report that it has mended. A contract has been made for supplying electric power to this community at a rate that will enable electric light and power to be at the disposal of local people at but little more than half the price that would have been necessary with a local plant.

In part the charges under this contract will be about the same as the present recently reduced rate in Frederick and will bring down the cost of an ordinary electric light to less than three-tenths of a cent an hour, and the cost of power to less than it can be produced with a gasoline engine at the present cost of gasoline. It will, moreover, be available all the time and in practically unlimited quantities.

The total investment cost of the new project which includes a transmission line from the substation of the Frederick Railroad Company, in Thurmont, will be about 20 per cent, less than that of the former plan and will be in every way more favorable to town operating cost.

It is felt that the advantage now to be obtained in this important feature of Emmitsburg's growth and development have been well worth waiting for although the waiting has been much longer than anyone connected with the project foresaw or intended. With the coming of a 2c hour service at the rate outlined Emmitsburg will be in as favorable a position electrically speaking, as any town of ten and twenty times its population.

It is understood that the citizens of Emmitsburg are invited to own the company that is to furnish this electric service and it will no doubt be a matter of local pride as well as of good business, to see that the ownership of a working majority of the stock of the company remains in the hands of local people.

It might be pointed  out  that, while promising a fair return on the money invested, the company proposes and has  virtually contracted to furnish the town with an adequate system of street light at a rate quite as low as any obtained in Maryland.

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