The Grid

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I had no idea how developed our historiography of the American power grid has become. That is, until, I finished reading this week's H-SCI-MED-TECH list-serv digests.

The highlight of the discussion is this beautiful little website, aimed an undergrad/general reader, courtesy of Wisconsin-Madison's Center for Culture | History | Environment.

I'll list below the other books or articles mentioned in the many valuable replies.

Read more...



(I'm aggregating quickly here and apologize for not crediting the contributors to this list, and for duplications---check out the h-net message archives for details):

Richard F. Hirsh, Technology and transformation in the American electric
utility industry (Cambridge, CUP, 1989)




Richard F. Hirsh, Power Loss: The Origins of Deregulation and Restructuring in the
American Electric Utility System (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1999
[paperback, 2002]).

Charles D. Jacobson, Ties that bind: economic and political dilemmas of
urban utility networks (2000) - for relations to other network industries.

Maury Klein, The Power Makers

Jill Jonnes, Empires of Light

Harold Platt, The Electric City

Paul Israel's bio of Edison

Forrest MacDonald's bio of Insull

Rudolph and Ridley, Power Struggle

James Goodman, Blackout

David Nye, When the Lights Went Out

David Nye, Consuming Power

David Nye, Electrifying America

Phillip Schewe, The Grid


Sharon Beder - Power Play: The Fight to Control the World's Electricity

Tobey, Ronald C. Technology as Freedom: The New Deal and the Electrical
Modernization of the American Home. Berkeley:  University of California
Press,  c1996

==On Niagara==

Edward Dean Adams, Niagara Power: History of the Niagara Falls Power
Company, 1886-1918, 2 vols (1927)

Steven Lubar, "Transmitting the Power of Niagara," IEEE Technology and
Society Magazine, March 1989, pp. 11-18.



==On Chicago and Insull==

William E. Keily, ed., Central-Station Electric Service: Its Commercial
Development and Economic Significance as Set Forth in the Public Addresses
(1897-1914) of Samuel Insull (1915)

William E. Keily, ed., Public Utilities in Modern Life: Selected Speeches
(1914-1923) by Samuel Insull (1924)

Forrest McDonald, Insull (1962)

John Hogan, A Spirit Capable: The Story of Commonwealth Edison (1986)

Samuel Insull, The Memoirs of Samuel Insull, ed. Larry Plachno (1992)

Harold Platt, Electric City: Energy and the Growth of the Chicago Area,
1880-1930 (1991)

Payson Jones, A Power History of the Consolidated Edison System, 1878-1900
(1940)

M.L. Ramsey, Pyramids of Power: The Story of Roosevelt, Insull, and the
Utility Wars (1937)



==On Rural Electrification==

D. Clayton Brown, Electricity for Rural America: The Fight for the REA (1980)

David C. Coyle, Electric Power on the Farm: The Story of Electricity, Its
Usefulness on Farms, and the Movement to Electrify Rural America (1936)



==Additional Suggestions==

R. H. Parsons, The Early Days of the Power Station Industry (1939)

Leonard Hyman, America's Electrical Utilities: Past, Present and Future
(1983)

Richard Hirsh, Technology and Transformation in the American Electrical
Utility Industry (1989) or anything by Hirsh

Richard Hirsh, Power Loss: The Origins of Deregulation and Restructuring
in the American Electric Utility System (1999)

William Hausman, Mira Wilkins, Peter Hertner, eds., Global
Electrification: Multinational Enterprise and International Finance in the
History of Light and Power, 1878-2007 (2008) or anything by Hausman

----
And the syllabus that resulted from this h-net discussion:

Course Objectives:  At the end of this course, the student should be
able to:

    * List the main elements of the theory of large technological
systems as developed by Thomas Hughes and others
    * Apply the theory of large technological systems to analyze
aspects the history of the electric grid
    * Outline the main features of the technological development of the
electric grid
    * Identify the significant personalities involved in the
development of the electric grid
    * Outline the historical evolution of electric utility companies
    * Outline the technological, social and political factors related
to rural electrification
    * Define the term “utility consensus” and describe its impact on
the development of the electric grid
    * Outline the impact of deregulation on the electric grid and its
operation

Textbook and/or Resources

    * Thomas Hughes, Networks of Power: Electrification of Western
Society 1880-1930, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1983
    * Richard F. Hirsh, Power Loss: The Origins of Deregulation and
Restructuring the American Electric Utility System, MIT Press, 1999
    * Readings Packet (on sale at OIT bookstore)

 Week 1: Introduction to Large Technological Systems

       Paul N. Edwards, “Infrastructure and Modernity: Force, Time, and Social
Organization in the History of Sociotechnical Systems,” from Misa, Bray
and Feenburg, Modernity and Technology, MIT Press, 2003. (Readings Packet)

       Thomas Hughes, Networks of Power, Chapter 1

       David Nye, “Chapter 1 – Grid” in When the Lights Went Out: A History of
Blackouts in America, MIT Press, 2010 (Readings Packet)

       Reference: National Academy of Engineering, Greatest Engineering
Achievements of the 20th Century, http://www.greatachievements.org/

Week 2: Inventing Electrification - Edison and His Competitors

       Thomas Hughes, Networks of Power, Chapters 2-5

       Reference: A CHE Primer on Energy – The Grid, Center For Culture
History Environment, University of Wisconsin-Madison,
http://che.nelson.wisc.edu/cool_stuff/energy/grid.shtml

Week 3: Implementing Electrification – Berlin, Chicago, London, and
California

       Thomas Hughes, Networks of Power, Chapters 6-10

Week 4: The Rise of the Grid – The Creation of Regional Networks

       Thomas Hughes, Networks of Power, Chapters 11-15

Week 5: Experiencing Electricity – Society and the Electric Grid

       David Nye, “Chapter 1 – Middletown Lights Up” and “Chapter 4 – What Was
Electricity” in Electrifying America: Social Meanings of a New
Technology, MIT Press, 1991 (Readings Packet)

       Raymond Arsenault, “The End of the Long Hot Summer: The Air Conditioner
and Southern Culture,” in Searching for the Sunbelt: Historical
Perspectives on a Region

Week 6: Rural Electrification

       David Nye, “Chapter 7 – Rural Lines” in Electrifying America: Social
Meanings of a New Technology, MIT Press, 1991 (Readings Packet)

       Robert Caro, “Chapter 27 – The Sad Irons” and “Chapter 28 – I’ll Get It
For You” in The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Path to Power, Vintage
Books, 1990

Week 7: The “Utility Consensus” – Regulating the Grid

       Richard F. Hirsh, Power Loss, Chapters 1-7

       Reference: A CHE Primer on Energy – Regulation 101, Center For Culture
History Environment, University of Wisconsin-Madison,
http://che.nelson.wisc.edu/cool_stuff/energy/regulation101.shtml

Week 8: Conservation and Utility Operation

       Richard F. Hirsh, Power Loss, Chapters 8-11

Week 9: The Rise of Deregulation

       Richard F. Hirsh, Power Loss, Chapters 12-15

Week 10:  The Legacy of Enron

       David Nye, “Chapter 5 – Rolling Blackouts” in When the Lights Went Out:
A History of Blackouts in America, MIT Press, 2010 (Readings Packet)

       Bradford Plumer, “Drunk with Power: The Energy Villain in Your
Neighborhood,” The New Republic, October 2, 2009 (Readings Packet)

       Film "Enron: Smartest Guys in the Room" (excepts shown in class)


Dr. Mark Clark
Professor of History
Oregon Institute of Technology
Klamath Falls, Oregon, USA

1 comments:

Hooray for your CHE (as we affectionately call the Center for Culture, History, and Environment) shout-out! That website is indeed a masterful resource produced in collaboration by last year's methods seminar and place-based workshop. CHE's general website is full of wonderful treats.

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