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North Wales Electricity¡ Concerns.I


North Wales Electricity Concerns. The weekly technical journal, "Electricity," in its last issue, contains the following comments, which are of great local interest: — ARE WE DOWNHEARTED? A perusal of the electrical news of the week concerning the North Wales coast towns prompts me to self-congratulatioin on the fact that I am not a municipal electrical engineer in the land of mountain and flood. Such newspaper;. head- lines as Rhyls Electric Lighting, The Town Hard Hit," and Colwyn Bay Electricity Con- cern, Mr. Hill's Report, The Engineer's Crush- ing Reply," speaks volumes for at least two har- assed members of the electrical profession, do- ing their l'mel, best in the interests, of an unre- sponsive and unappreciative community, and, 'knowing the ways, of councillors, my sympathy ir goes out to these gentlemen in their off-season campaign against the powers that be, but are of little understanding in matters electrical. Tak- ing the above-mentioned town in the order 'named, I find that a Local Government Board inquiry has been held at Rhyl into the Coun- cil's application to borrow £ 5,000 for purposes of electric lighting. The history of the Rhyl undertaking from its inception has been an un- happy one. The scheme, as originally carried out, cost £ 27,000, and included provision for an electric tramway system which has never materialised. This naturally meant that the plant, at the outset, was a good deal in advance of the dis- trict's immediate requirements, and that the capital charges were, in consequence, out of all proportion to the revenue. Since be took over the management, Mr. W righi, the present engin- eer, has experienced a good deal of trouble with the mains, which are now, however, in good con- dition. It is urged that the existing plant, in addition to being too large for the township's requirements, is also out of date, and the some- what novel suggestion has been made of sub- stituting a smaller plant, and thus reducing the works cost. The inspector, Mr. H. R. Hooper, whilst fully realising that Rhyl has so far been unfortunate in its municipal enterprise, urged that the proper course to adopt was not so much to reduce the works cost as to develop the under- taking and secure additional consumers, a sug- gestion which, having regard to the temporar- ily debilitating influence of the metal-filament lamp, is rather rough of the electrical staff. I was present at the official opening of the Rhyl generating station, and should be sorry to see the scheme fail utterly for lack of the necessary officials.anction to any suggestion making for its advancement and ultimate financial success. COLWYN BAY. The state of affairs at Colwyn Bay, though more promising than at Rhyl, inasmuch as the undertakiiiig has at one time been able to show a respectable profit on its trading, is neverthe- less a trying one for"Mr. Tudman, the engineer, more particularly as his most captious critic is himself an inhabitant of Rhyl, and is given to bringing the affairs of that town's electricity scheme into his criticisms of the Colwyn Bay venture. According to this gentleman's report on the management of the Colwyn Bay elec- tricity works, the chief engineer is grossly over- paid, and) does not exercise sufficient personal supervision over the undertaking to warrant a re- arrangement of the duties of his assistant. Mr. Tudman's reply to a detailed criticism of his methods was terse and. to. the point. He is to be commended for his plain speaking in re- gard to his subordinates, who, on his own show- ing, are old servants and have done good work for the department in the past. It was, he said, open for the Committee to save a few shillings in getting other men to replace them at a cheaper rate, but this was an unwise policy where valuable machinery was concerned. He was open to contradiction if he had not one of the beat kept plants in the king- dom, and its: life depended upon the care be- stowed on it by competent men. There was, he urged, more to be done to the olant than keep- ing it in motion. Incidentally, it transpired that current is supplied to the publi clamps., free library, convenience, fire station, and Council offices, at a reduced charge of zd. per unit, whereas the actual cost of generation is 2.35d. per unit. This, is an, all too common practice in municipal undertakings, the effect of which, upon the ultimate balance-sheet, is apt to be overlooked when the times comes for criticism. With regard to the assistant engineer, Mr. Tudman also drew attention to the fact that it was a courtesy title pure and simple in that this gentleman was called upon to perform all kinds of duties, had given his services free of salary for three years, and was even at the present time not paid a sum commensurate with his title as assistant engineer, in spite of the fact that his qualifications would warrant his being granted a testimonial in that capacity in the event of his seeking employment elsewhere. Taken altogether, the Colwyn Bay electric light inquiry is another proof of the risks run by a competent professional man in taking service under a municipality. Municipal, control is all very well so long as the yearly balance-sheet shows a profit, however small, but the represen- tatives of the ratepayers in most districts have a happy knock of ignoring the far-reaching effects of bad trade, or such revolutionary innovations as metal-filament lamps, and are apt to credit their employees with the powers of the phil- osopher's stone, with an utter disregard of the purely business aspect of the undertaking which they control.

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