Friday, September 30, 2016

First hydroelectric plant was built in Appleton in 1882

Renewable energy has a long history at We Energies. On Sept. 30, 1882, the first hydroelectric plant opened in Appleton, Wisconsin. The plant was conceptualized by H.J. Rogers, president of the Appleton Paper and Pulp Co. and the Appleton Gas Light Co. (later Appleton Edison Light Co.) -- one of our many predecessors.  
Vulcan Street Plant
Rogers' company built the Vulcan Street plant on the Fox River, which powered the plant's water wheel and provided enough power to generate 12.5 kilowatts that lit 180 lights, powered Rogers' riverside paper mill and lit his home perched on a bluff overlooking the mill. 
Although his spacious home was a Victorian showplace, the hydro plant was little more than a shed. A replica of the plant can be found today on South Oneida Street. 
Back in the day of Appleton's first hydro plant, electric bills actually were "light" bills and calculated based on the number of electric lamps in a home or business. The cost was $1.20 a month per lamp -- about $26 in today's dollars. Quite a luxury at the time.
Today, you can light a 10-watt LED bulb for 5 hours a day at a cost of just 20 cents a month.

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