Savannah Electric and Power Company (Southern Company )

Savannah Electric and Power Company (Southern Company )

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Savannah Electric and Power Company (Southern Company )
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Beautifully engraved specimen certificate from the Savannah Electric and Power Company. This historic document was printed by the Security-Columbian Banknote Company in 1978 and has an ornate border around it with a vignette of an allegorical woman.
Certificate Vignette The Electric Age dawned in America in 1879 when the first incandescent bulb for commercial use was developed by inventor Thomas A. Edison. Two years later, the first electric light and power system went on-line when a New York generating station began producing lighting power for 59 customers in Manhattan. From that first electric enterprise, visionary businessmen were quick to accommodate their cities and towns to the new technology and raced to light communities across the nation. Savannah, with its booming economy under-pinned by cotton and shipping, was no exception. In 1882, ten local businessmen financed Brush Electric Company - the forerunner of Savannah Electric and Power Company - and electricity had come to illuminate the "pithy darkness" of the city's streets. Four enormous lighting towers soon were constructed in the city's business district, powered by a coal-fueled, 120-horsepower engine, and by the early 1890s new arc lighting brightened the growing area south of the city. In 1893, however, the company took a new direction when its superintendent, Thomas Keck, became the first to install electric lighting in his house at 196 West President Street. Shortly thereafter, William Stillwell became the first paying residential customer when his house on Huntingdon Street was wired for lighting. By the turn of the century, the company was lighting the city's newly paved streets and the houses that lined them, and was powering the trolleys that clattered on major thoroughfares. The trolleys became part of the company in 1902 when Savannah Electric was incorporated, merging the city's transportation and electric power operations. By 1912, more than 3,400 electric customers were being served, and the coal-fueled Riverside power plant was built on River Street to meet the rapidly growing demand for electrical power. The demise of Savannah's trolleys can he traced to 1914, when cars began rolling in volume from Detroit's assembly lines, and most of the trolley system was dismantled during the Depression. The demand on the Riverside plant increased during the early decades of this century as Savannah industry grew and electrical appliances multiplied. Irons pressed clothes with ease, ovens baked at even temperatures, and toasters assumed prominent places on kitchen tables. The electric range and refrigerator, as news articles proclaimed, produced yet another electrical marvel - extremes in temperature in the same room. By the 1950s, with the advent of air conditioning, the exploding growth of the military bases, and the linking of communities in surrounding counties to the system, the Riverside station was strained. Updated in the 1930s, the plant again was expanded and modernized to meet the increasing residential and industrial demand. By 1958, Savannah Electric's second plant was operating at Port Wentworth. Complete reliance on electricity was almost universal during the 1960s. But the electric industry and the nation soon were facing the squeeze of skyrocketing oil prices and political instability in the Middle East. Company leaders were challenged to find energy alternatives that were less costly and more reliable. As a result, Savannah Electric embarked on an ambitious fuel conversion program in 1977, which included the company's newest facility, the Effingham Plant, built two years later. Concurrent with the completion of the fuel conversion in 1982, Savannah Electric marked its 100th anniversary by coming full circle to where it began, with domestic coal fueling its plants. After 106 years as an independent, investor-owned company, Savannah Electric merged with Atlanta-based Southern Company in 1988, and subsequently became part of one of the largest and most successful utility systems in the United States. From a lone customer on Huntingdon Street in 1893, Savannah Electric today serves some 130,000 customers in a 2,000 square-mile region spanning Chatham, Effingham, Bulloch, Bryan and Screven Counties.


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