Power Niagara Falls electricity was to run Buffalos streetcars

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doted a switch in the Cataract Giy and an engineer watched by Buffalo Mayor Edgar Jewett did the same a! the new Buffalo power house.

The results were less than spectacular The intent had been to use Niagara to power Buffalo's sircctcars, but a missing voltmeter kept cautious engineers from unleashing the new power genie on the city system as planned.

At the power house that night, success was measured simply in the humming of a anali rotating armature. Soou. though, the voltmeter was installed, and electricity was running not only the streetcars but Buffalo's new street lights.

The victory also marked the end of the "Battle of the Currents," which pitted Nikola Tesla's alternating current equipment against an earlier empire that Thomas Edison had built on his hopes for direct current.

Testa, backed by George Westing/muse, earned the day — but a hundred years later, at least one Centennial Conference questioner noted that technical advances finally may make muliivoltage DC a better technology

Testa, bom in Croatia to Serbian parents, stiU garnered the lion's share of honors Friday as a genius whose work still powers achievements today.

"Nikola Tesla was a superrstar a hundred years ago, much as athletes and entertainers are today," said New jersey aerospace and telecommunications data engineer William H Ter+v*, a great-nephew of the inventor and head of the Testa Memorial Society.

But Tesla's celebrity faded with time, His lasting legacy was bis inventiveness.

"He was so innovative in so many areas, that some of his patents are just now coming into use," Tcrbo said. "He often Thought of himself as a failure, because so many of the things he thought of he was never able to produce."

The dawning of the age of electricity that took place here a century ago "literally changed the world," about 350 conference participants were told at the Niagara Falls Convention Center.

"In a way, it's almost impossible to appreciate the true magnitude of what look place at Niagara Falls a century ago. as we lake electricity for granted." Westing-

house Power Corp. general manager Thomas A. Christopher said.

What was oocc amazing is now commonplace, as electric light and power have become an everyday miracle.

Before participating with Niagara Palls Mayor James C. Gälte and Buffalo Mayor Masiello in separate commemorative switch-throwing ceremonies Friday, utility executives and public officials nt even more time pondering future.

Long a system of protected and highly «rgulatcd monopolies., the power industry is moving toward an era of deregulation designed to drive down costs by promoting competition. Spurred by federal action in 1992, New York is now among 46 states planning a competitive environmenL

The state's power supply system will be divided into a regulated core of transmission lines and a deregulated power generation and marketing industry, paralleling the current system of telephone companies and long-distance lines.

State San. Paul Tonko, head of the Senate Energy Committee, sakl the issue should be a priority in next year s legelatm sessions. New York industries and residents need the relief from electricity costs that are "among the highest in the nation," he said, but the legislation also will have to protect the environment, work for«, system reliability and safety

"Customer choice will lower costs more effectively thai any state or federal regulation." soid Rappleyea, who advocated Power Authority ownership of the state's high-voltage lines as a "public electric Thruway "

Power companies will have to react to a business environment m which "customer service will be more important than ever,"1 said Niagara Mohawk President Albert i. Budney Jr.

General Electric Co. Vice President Ronald R Pressman said technical advances will continue to be a key factor as utilities seek "to retain their customers in what we expect to be a brutally competitive deregulated market tn the years ahead."

US energy systems have to stop lagging behind other nations in efficiency if they want to expand into global markets or just protect their own turf, he added

Power industry looks to future

MILESTONE: 117, it, ehbrating tin an>iiu"nar). eh i trie utilitia an-!>tt'f>tirnig for ramjietUion.

3y Don Glynn

Sia^.m UiKittf

A i entury after Niagara celt-!|J<ltdJ tile 11 IS I loJIg-dlsUlllCC delivery ut hydrupower. the Hectic (i-iwcr industry faces mas-ove structural changes that Jiojid end tlii' current monopoly ¡mi create more contpeliiioii tu jt'iirtit consumers, "I: vim ipw customer? the «i-.ii r t-j ihn«, they .nil Imvi I i:.tre eftVctively than any nie »r regulation fp>n Albany • Vj^isigtiin " ---iid CM. "Kapp i.ijipii-ycÄ. chairman and duel ,\f. iffiicl nt It»- .Vi«

.>I'-'Ac: Authority. A tire _'i»' I :»i-!fi. ii ; f- a:;ib-.->in«-»-.

pioneer Nitiuia Tesla'= invention ■if the alternating current. Kapp-ieyea said a it-cent study by .1 Washington-based lesearvll group estimated that tin- electric )iili> fur a typical New York industry would In' eut In Si ¡»-r i em as a result nl competition.

In May. the state Public Si-i »lei Commission oidcred the state's utilities In deregulate 'heir nlH.TalK.ns. itK lading the Ketieration, transmission, distribution and st-r\ Kt nt h-i dropow-tr. Some utilities filed lawsuits III the stale Supn-nit Court dial h numg tlie PSC tiriler,

"Another stmlv in .r., i-nergv ■if..dys! -Ii-'A - : La', a ;i nt:v oh the .lVtrngt Hi-ill täte «muid

I fi.t-.ii i- ti'iii- *.''. ri s] ti;!lnin m i« m|m«í . a».' . . a. -'t rated states f.v _'i-l' p-.;tt::;g nearly it "»• 11. .ti ;i ■!.. 1 .-.¿".i ■',•.

I'inlet I he PX !:tc .1. MÚ-' fi ate tt- . a:• t' ■ a;, thi.-.r markets to wholesale competition by 1W7 and to retail by 19W. steps already viewed as complex and time-consuming.

William K Davis, chairman and thief executive officer of Niagara Mohawk Power Corp., predicted that by the turn of the century many electricity users will be getting calls from would-be elec tnciiy suppliers olfenng services and incentives', much like telecommunications firms today.

"Customers will be able to (.house services tailored to their specific needs, in contrast to the one-sue tits all approach offered under utility regulation," he said

Citing the Ti-sla milestone ol Sm. if, JifiHi, Assemblyman Paul D. Tonko. [»Amsterdam, chainnar. of the Assembly Stand-mil Committee ml Energy, said he thinks New York can regain its ptc-emincnce in the century old power industry.

" liu! 1 iur time '.3 short and the consequences of failure to a^t art-

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