Establishment of Union Electric 1916 to 1918
Union Electric Light and Power Company, Limited, 1916 to 1966
Melvin Baker, Robert D. Pitt, and Janet Miller Pitt
(An earlier version was originally published in The Illustrated History of Newfoundland Light & Power (St. John's, Creative Publishers, 1990), 235-56.
The Bonavista Peninsula is bounded on the west by Bonavista Bay and on the east by Trinity Bay, reputedly named by Gaspar Corte Real who sailed into the Bay on Trinity Sunday 1500. The peninsula is about 50 miles in length from Clarenville at its base, north to the tip of Cape Bonavista. Trinity and Bonavista, the traditional site of John Cabot's New World landfall in 1497, are among the earliest-settled communities in North America, dating from the early 1600s and were major fishing supply centres. In the early twentieth century the largest communities on the peninsula were Bonavista with 3,911 inhabitants, Trinity with 1,604, and Catalina with 1,016.
In 1913 St. John's businessman and Catalina native John Murphy and several prominent residents from Catalina, Bonavista and Trinity received a 50-year franchise to supply electricity to their towns utilizing the hydro power of Diamond's Long Pond, near Catalina. The Northern Electric Light and Power Company, as they called themselves, had two years to begin work on their hydro-electric system and five years to complete it. But Northern Electric did not fulfil its franchise conditions and in May 1916 the legislature gave the water rights to the newly-formed Union Electric Light and Power Company, a company owned by the Fishermen's Protective Union (FPU) which had been established in 1908. Petitioners to the Assembly for the company's formation were FPU members Dugald White and Joseph Perry of Catalina and John Guppy of Port Rexton.
Union Electric received water rights for 20 years to the numerous lakes and ponds which flowed into Trinity Bay between Trinity and Catalina. The company's authorized capital stock was $200,000 in shares of $10 each but the capital stock could be increased if necessary. The FPU's Union Trading Company took 600 shares while the FPU itself had 150 shares, and FPU fishermen from Bonavista, Elliston, Catalina, Little Catalina and Trinity bought into the new company. The shareholders held their inaugural meeting on June 28, 1916 at Catalina and elected William Ford Coaker (the FPU's dynamic President), Dugald White, John Guppy, Joseph Perry, John Stone and Peter Coleridge as the company's first directors. They then chose Coaker as President and Stone as Secretary. It was also decided to locate the company's headquarters in a part of Catalina harbour that by the end of 1916 was to become known as Port Union.
Later in 1916 Coaker contracted with Reid Newfoundland to build the Catalina River hydro project with Reid's engineer John Powell doing the necessary engineering surveys and supervising construction and Reid Newfoundland providing other technical assistance. The Catalina River development involved harnessing the waters of Gull Pond and Diamond's Long Pond which, through a series of smaller ponds, flowed into Catalina River in the southwest arm of Catalina harbour. Powell was familiar with this part of the peninsula from previous work surveying the route for the Bonavista branch railway. Powell's assistant, Allan Vatcher, oversaw the daily construction work and in 1917 Will Morris installed the power station equipment. Former Reid Newfoundland employee Arthur Smith, a Brigus native who had worked at the Petty Harbour power station and most recently at the Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company's Grand Falls power station, supervised construction of the transmission and distribution lines. In 1920 Smith rejoined Reid Newfoundland but left again in 1924 to work at the Deer Lake power station. Smith joined Newfoundland Light and Power in 1926 as Superintendent of the distribution system, remaining until his retirement in 1943.
Construction began in June 1916 and the power station was put into service by mid-February 1918. The power station was financed by 8 debentures valued at $100,000 which Union Electric issued in 1920; these were redeemed in 1934 and replaced by an issue of 6% 20-year debentures valued at $70,000. In 1926 Union Electric's paid up capital stock was $31,600 of its authorized total of $200,000.
Union Electric 1919 to 1952
Although Union Electric was established to provide power for the FPU's various commercial and residential properties in Port Union, residents in nearby Catalina were soon anxious to have access to the luxury of electricity too. As a result, by February 1918 nearly every house in Catalina was wired for the service at a flat rate of a dollar a month. In 1920 Union Electric completed construction of a 13.2-kV transmission line to Bonavista where a sub-station stepped the power down to 2.3kV. To provide the additional power necessary for nearby Bonavista, Union Electric in 1920 installed a second Francis turbine. In 1929 Union Electric extended electrical service to Elliston (1921 population, 850) and in 1931 to Little Catalina (1921 population, 536).
From 1920 to 1926 Arthur Smith's brother Ernest had overseen Union Electric's operations and in 1926 Aaron Bailey became Assistant General Manager and administered the company's operations for the next 40 years. Bailey immediately began to replace the flat rate structure with one based on metered use, but in Bonavista the change, Bailey later recalled, provoked a public outcry. Coaker met with the residents at Bonavista and supported Bailey's proposed change. In the face of continued resistance the company declared that service would be cut to customers who did not take meters; all eventually accepted the new rates except for nine who refused and consequently lost service. Bailey tried to have a standard minimum monthly rate for domestic customers but found that the ability of residents to pay differed from community to community. So in Bonavista the minimum monthly rate was $1.00 per eight kWh while at Catalina, Little Catalina, Port Union and Elliston it was $1.25 per ten kWh. Bailey also instituted several optional rates for different customers within a single community. There was a $2.00 minimum for 25kWh or $2.50 for 40kWh; other minimum rates were for $3.00, $3.50, and $4.00. He later explained, "you must have [such rates] for so few customers with small earnings".
Because of the district subsidies granted by the Newfoundland legislature there were soon public street lights as well in Bonavista, Catalina and Port Union. In 1926, for instance, Bonavista had 83 street lights and Catalina had 44. In the early years of the depression the government discontinued the lighting service for financial reasons but Union Electric carried the street lighting service for a few years without charge. After the mid-1930s the only public street lights in Bonavista were outside the premises of local merchants who paid Union Electric $1.00 a month for each light taken.
The company's main billing issued from the office at Port Union but there was a branch office at Bonavista to handle billing for that community and Elliston. The Bonavista Manager was Alexander Tremblett who joined the company in 1919 and did not retire from Newfoundland Light & Power until 1970.
During the depression of the 1930s, as with other utilities, many Union Electric customers found it difficult or impossible to pay their bills and the company steadily lost revenues. The number of customers dropped at Elliston, for instance, from 86 to 23 as fishermen returned to using the kerosene lamp. The company was unable to collect much of the delinquent accounts whether they had disconnected their power or not. In the 1930s the company recovered only about one-third of the debts owed by its customers and former customers. As Bailey later recalled, from the 1930s onward, the company's practice was not to cut off service to anyone unless
we know that he is trying to get away without paying or making any attempt to pay. We carry them along and try to get what we can. But in no case have we cut off a customer except where it is impossible to get anything out of him.Any lost customer would be re-connected if payments were resumed. Besides cash, payment in the 1930s was sometimes tendered in fish or turnips. According to Bailey, "these people had to have electricity, so we found a way, after taking salt fish and turnips. We sold the salt fish to the Fishermen's Union Trading Company, and the turnips we sold to the Labrador schooners". Most fishermen settled their accounts with the company at the end of the year from the money they received for their fish. As Bailey told the 1950 provincial Royal Commission Inquiry into the Cost of Living, payment depended "on their [the customers'] earnings when they can pay it". The company frequently carried some customers, he testified, for as long as three years with no interest being charged on overdue accounts. Union Electric gave no discount for punctual payment of bills and hence there was no incentive for customers to pay promptly.
On March 1, 1945 fire destroyed the plant of the Union Trading Company containing Union Electric's offices, stock rooms and records. Union Electric then built its own separate office. That same year the company installed a 150-horsepower diesel caterpillar unit as a standby in case of a water shortage and to guarantee a 24-hour power supply to the large private fish plant at Bonavista. Although Union Electric did not have sufficient funds for the diesel, Bailey and several individuals guaranteed a bank loan of $15,000 for the utility. The Trading Company, for which Union Electric was originally established in 1916, received preferential treatment on its power supply, paying Union Electric $500 a month for power. In the late 1940s Bonavista, however, provided nearly half of the company's total electric revenues followed next by Port Union, Catalina, Elliston and Little Catalina.
In 1951 Union Electric applied to the Newfoundland Public Utilities Board (PUB) for a revision and standardization of its various rate structures which would increase its annual revenues from its 1,300 customers by at least $15,000. To do so Union Electric sought a minimum domestic monthly charge of $2.25 for the first 20kWh and additional charges for any excess. Since 1941 Union Electric had not paid a dividend to shareholders because all available capital was needed to rebuild the transmission system following a destructive sleet storm in 1942 which had cost $47,000 in repairs, $17,000 of which had to be borrowed from the bank.
Company records presented before the PUB showed that since 1945 the utility had lost money on the light, heat and power side of the balance sheet and depended on the active Sales Department for its sustenance. Arthur Mifflin, a Catalina native and St. John's lawyer for Union Electric, informed the PUB that "without the Sales Department the company could not operate whatever". As Mifflin and Bailey told the board, the additional revenue would place the utility on a sounder financial footing and enable it to carry out delayed improvements to the transmission lines, dams, forebay and spillway, the total of which it was estimated would cost about $12,000. In addition, the meters that had been installed in the 1920s were inefficient and under the regulations of the Dominion Bureau of Standards they had to be replaced.
Union Electric also needed the additional revenue to allow wage increases; from 1945 to 1950 the wage costs for linemen had increased by 100%, while the increase for general labour during the same period was 47%. The company's employees were seeking a 20% increase over their present wages and threatened to resign if their request was not met - which would have resulted in the unusual situation of non-unionized workers striking against a company which had been formed by a union of fishermen. In 1950 Union Electric had a permanent labour force of 14 people whose monthly wages varied between $85 for the most junior worker to $175 for the highest paid employee, though they did receive a company bonus at the end of the year. Union Electric also faced increasing costs for electrical materials which from 1945 to 1950 rose by 138%.
After listening to Union Electric's arguments the board granted approval for an increase but instead of $2.25, it set the monthly domestic rate at $2.00 for the first 20kWh taken, and six cents per kWh for the next 50kWh. The balance was to be charged at three cents for each kWh. Having put Union Electric on a stronger financial footing, Bailey now set out to achieve a goal he had in mind for several years - the electrification of the entire Bonavista Peninsula from Bonavista to Clarenville.
WORK CONDITIONS FOR UNION ELECTRIC EMPLOYEES
For the Elliston line which Union Electric constructed in 1929 the company paid $100 for its first "line truck", a converted 1920 Chevrolet car. As Union Electric's Aaron Bailey later recalled, the back seat was taken out of the car to carry coils of wire, crossarms and other electrical equipment and supplies. During the winter the company used the vehicle by putting it on skis, though the main means of transportation in the 1920s and 1930s were dog teams for carrying men and supplies along the route of transmission lines as it was for Newfoundland Light and Power and United Towns Electric. Work began about 7.00 am and employees rode their bikes from home to work. Max Jones in a 1985 article for Tie Lines described a typical day of a Union employee:
If your work was to read meters you jumped aboard your trusty bike and went over your route. Most of the meters were located upstairs which meant you had to face some unhappy, customers at times. If issued the job, sticking poles, again you loaded your bike with scoops, bars, shovels and whatever was required, went to the site - probably three or four miles - dug the hole, and returned again to the work shop on your bike with the tools. A crew would be sent to the site with the gaffs and ropes and set the pole. When it was time to string the wire, anyone could be picked to put on spurs and climb the poles.Union Electric linemen, like their counterparts elsewhere in the utility business naturally worked in all kinds of weather. In one instance a line crew left Port Union with a crossarms on the men's backs to meet with another crew coming from Bonavista. This was done by walking the railway tracks in a blinding snow storm in the middle of the night. The job was completed, power was restored and they arrived back home just in time to go to work. According to Union Electric's Aaron Bailey, linemen were equipped with spurs safety belts, rubber gloves and an assortment of small tools. Ground crews carried four pike poles, scoops and eight foot digging bars. The company found potential linemen in young men who had experience working three mast vessels and were used to climbing the masts of sailing vessels m stormy weather.
Bailey has also observed that an employee with Union Electric was a "jack of all trades". Unlike their Newfoundland Light and Power counterparts who in 1947 worked a nine-hour day, Union Electric 1inemen received a monthly rather than an hourly wage and worked at all aspects of the utility business. The typical lineman undertook "line work, meter reading, bill collecting, digging holes, everything in general, we could not employ a man specifically to read meters and do nothing else ... as there is not enough business".
Clarenville Light and Power Company, Limited 1933 to 1953
At the other end of the Bonavista Peninsula, approximately 50 miles from Bonavista, was the fishing, shipbuilding and lumbering community of Clarenville, established in the 1890s by the merging of several small communities in order to procure a local post office. From a population of 229 residents in 1901, Clarenville had grown slowly over the next three decades rising to only 310 by 1935. Following the completion of the Bonavista branch railway in 1911, Clarenville served as its southern terminus. In 1933 the community received momentary fame when General Italo Balbo and 24 seaplanes of the Italian Air Force landed off Clarenville and nearby Shoal Harbour on a return trip to Italy from the United States. The Italians rested in the community for two weeks.
In 1932 businessman Edgar Stanley commissioned the St. John's office of the International General Electric Company to perform an economic feasibility study of a hydro development in the Clarenville area. The report indicated that in the four neighbouring communities of Clarenville, Shoal Harbour, Milton and George's Brook there were prospective customers in 200 private houses, four churches, two railway stations, seven halls and schools and ten small stores. The cost of development was estimated at $18,500. Stanley's proposal received the support of residents who not only wished to have electricity but also the employment such development would bring.
On July 7, 1933 the legislature granted Clarenville Light & Power a 50-year franchise to supply electricity to Clarenville and the other three nearby communities. Reid Newfoundland held the water power rights to South West Brook where the power station would be built and gave them to Clarenville Light & Power in exchange for eight shares in the electric utility, valued at $100 each. The company's authorized capital stock was $20,000, all but $400 of which was taken up within a year with Stanley and his family owning all shares, except for the eight held by Reid Newfoundland.
Edgar Stanley, who was Manager of Clarenville Light & Power, relied on William Watson of General Electric in St. John's and Aaron Bailey of Union Electric for advice on utility matters. Construction started in June and included the installation of a 75-horsepower unit in the station, which was designed by Watson. On November 2, 1933 the company provided electricity over a three-mile distribution line from the power station to 12 customers in Clarenville and within two years the line was extended to the contiguous community of Shoal Harbour. From 1933 to 1944 load growth was slow but in 1946 the company was obliged to install an additional 90-horsepower hydro unit to meet the increasing load demand. In 1948 Clarenville Light k Power extended its transmission to C. & M. Pelley Limited's brickyard in Milton. Because the power station never had sufficient water to operate at full capacity, the company installed a 150-horsepower diesel unit in 1949.
By the early 1950s Clarenville and its neighbouring communities had grown to about 1,620 people and the electrical system was inadequate to meet their rapidly growing power demands. Within the general customer area served by Clarenville Light & Power, there were 60 houses without electricity. Since 1940, Clarenville had grown in part because of people from smaller nearby communities moving to the town to take employment. In June 1950 PUB Chairman Grant Jack visited Clarenville to examine the electrical service. He found that the meters were old and had not been tested since their installation and the voltage was not always constant thus causing great inconvenience to customers. Jack had George Desbarats study the power situation in the area and his report to the board in December 1950 addressed the need for service extensions, capital improvements and a larger power supply.
The following year Desbarats made a further examination of the Clarenville situation as part of his provincial water power surveys for the government. In December 1951 he suggested to Premier Joseph Smallwood that several sites in the nearby George's Brook area with the potential of providing from 400 to 1,400 horsepower be developed. Their development depended, however, on whether large industries could be attracted to take part of the load, Desbarats noted that larger developments of 10,000 horsepower were possible, one of which was in the Port Blandford area only 13 miles from Clarenville. As with the Burin Peninsula, though, the Smallwood government in the early 1950s did not encourage such developments in hopes that Clarenville power would soon be part of some large provincial hydro development.
In January 1952 the PUB convened at Clarenville to hear a complaint from several residents of Shoal Harbour who had been unable to get Clarenville Light & Power to provide electricity to their homes. The board ordered Edgar Stanley to provide the service by April 1, 1952, but the company was in no financial position to undertake the capital expenditures and did not comply with the board's order. On his trips to St. John's from Port Union, Aaron Bailey stayed overnight in Clarenville to wait for the train to the capital. He used to visit Stanley, he relates, to "go over any of the things he had as a problem with the utility part and give him some advice on it. So one day I'm going through Clarenville and I called into the hardware store and Edgar is not in the best mood and his first words were 'Aaron do you want to buy Clarenville Light & Power, I'm selling out' ".
Bailey was interested and in 1952 Union Electric paid $40,000 for the utility with its 306 customers. In Clarenville Bailey saw great potential for load growth and the new acquisition gave Union Electric an electrical system at both ends of the Bonavista Peninsula, thus making the plan to electrify the whole peninsula more plausible. Union Electric officially took over the system on January 1, 1953; the dam and other facilities were later given to the town of Clarenville to use as part of its water supply.
Lockston and Electricity for the Bonavista Peninsula, 1953 to 1956
In early 1952 Bailey hired Newfoundland hydro consultant George Desbarats to study possible power sites on the Bonavista Peninsula and to determine the area's present and future electrical requirements. Desbarats advised that about 30,000 horsepower could be developed at various places but his preference was for Trinity Pond near Lockston. As Bailey later recalled, John Powell had surveyed this site in the early 1900s but it had not been previously developed because, until the mid-1940s, the Port Union power station had been sufficient for the power requirements for both Port Union and Bonavista. In October 1952 Union Electric received water rights to Trinity Pond as well as to George's Brook near Clarenville. (The company had not had the rights to the former renewed with its franchise rights in 1944.) Desbarats interviewed residents in various communities on the south side of Bonavista Bay and the north side of Trinity Bay in order to ascertain the electrical requirements of about 1,700 potential customers. Desbarats's findings complemented interviews completed by Union Electric officials and representations from residents themselves.
Together they determined that there was a significant increase in both commercial and domestic demand just around the corner. Existing hospitals and schools required more electricity as did local industries like fish plants, some of which were using their own diesel-powered generators. Less expensive hydro power would make those local fish plants more competitive with plants already using hydro-electricity elsewhere in the province. There was also the promise of two new fish plants in the Port Union-Catalina area, one of which was a fresh-fish processing plant to be set up by Fishery Products Ltd. Bailey was actively encouraging that company's President, Arthur Monroe, to build the plant with the promise of a power supply from nearby Lockston. The fog alarm and lighthouse facilities at Cape Bonavista would also take electric power, and in 1953 Union Electric informed the government that, in the Clarenville area, additional power had been requested by the railway, the shipyard, Pelley's brickyard, a creosote plant and Canadian National Telegraphs. Both Desbarats and Bailey estimated that the proposed 4,000-horsepower development at Lockston would cost $1,450,000. And it would need other new capital to extend and modernize its distribution and transmission systems.
In December 1952 Bailey visited Montreal to arrange financing for the proposed hydro project, spending a week in discussions with Reg Dean, Vice-President and General Manager of the Nesbitt, Thompson investment firm and its engineering consultant, Power Corporation. Nesbitt, Thompson agreed to help Union Electric raise a bond issue of $750,000 if the province agreed to a second mortgage for $700,000 and when Power Corporation completed a study of the development's financial feasibility. On January 29, 1953 Union Electric's St. John's lawyers Isaac Mercer and Arthur Mifflin presented the Smallwood government with a detailed proposal for electrifying the peninsula. With the government mortgage, Union Electric would be immediately able to complete its financing arrangements with Nesbitt, Thompson and would commence construction in the spring of 1953.
The provincial government found the proposed second mortgage unacceptable and in early March 1953 Bailey returned to Montreal for two weeks to hold further consultations with Nesbitt, Thompson and Power Corporation officials. On March 18, 1953 Bailey informed Smallwood that once Power Corporation had completed its own on-site investigations of Union Electric's proposed development (and assuming Power Corporation's report was favourable, as it was), Nesbitt, Thompson would agree to float a $1,000,000 bond issue. A formal application for financial assistance would follow two days later. As Smallwood wrote Dean in June 1953, the provincial cabinet had decided to make the guarantee contingent on Power Corporation's financial and engineering study supporting the proposed development.
While Power Corporation's report was not unfavourable to the development of the Lockston site, the Smallwood government delayed its decision on providing its share of financial support until the following year. The government was waiting for the report of Richard Thomas Jeffery of Ontario Hydro whom Smallwood had asked to look into UTE's and Union Electric's financial problems and the matter of Newfoundland's supply of electricity in general. Although Jeffery recommended that electricity be generated by a publicly-owned agency, as it was in Ontario, Smallwood decided finally to give Union Electric the support it needed to carry on in the Bonavista Peninsula region.
Thus, on July 8, 1954 the Government of Newfoundland signed an agreement with Union Electric providing the full guarantee for Nesbitt, Thompson's issuing of Union Electric bonds for $1,100,000. The company also received from the legislature a 50-year franchise to provide electricity on the Bonavista Peninsula. Construction work began later in July 1954 with George Desbarats overseeing the development for Union Electric. By the fall of 1955 Union Electric had completed a 46-kV transmission line from Port Union to Lockston. Using local black spruce, the company placed from 17 to 20 poles for every mile along the 20-mile route. Bailey wrote Smallwood in July 1956 that the 46-kV line (the company had first considered using a line of less expensive lower voltage) enabled the company to link with any future large hydro development that might take place at Piper's Hole or on the Terra Nova River. Union Electric used its own employees and some local electrical contractors to wire consumers' houses.
Melrose, near Port Union, was connected at this time and both Port Rexton and Trinity East received power on January 19, 1956 with temporary power from Port Union until Lockston was put in service. The Lockston power station went into operation on January 26, 1956 and in May transmitted electricity to Port Union and other peninsula communities.
Several small fishing communities in the Bonavista area - Birchy Cove, Newman's Cove and Amherst Cove - were connected in the fall of 1956 and supplied from the Bonavista sub-station which had to be enlarged to hold two new transformers that tripled the available power. In 1957 Union Electric completed a transmission line from Lockston to George's Brook, thus connecting the Clarenville distribution system to the Lockston power station. The electrical interconnection of the Bonavista Peninsula from Clarenville to Bonavista had been accomplished.
As had been anticipated, besides meeting existing load requirements Lockston allowed the establishment of new industries. In 1956 the recently completed Fishery Products fish plant at Port Union took 1,000 horsepower, and a new salt fish plant at Catalina, owned by Mifflin Fisheries Limited, used 300 horsepower. In 1956 other new customers included an ice hockey stadium and a school in Clarenville. Total company revenues from the sale of electricity for the Port Union and Clarenville areas rose sharply during this period, from $48,000 in 1950 to about $150,000 in 1956.
Bailey and Rural Electrification, 1956 to 1966
Following the development of Lockston, Bailey's interest remained rooted in rural electrification and in particular in the consideration of a plan for electrifying the north side of Bonavista Bay which would include a large hydro development at Middle Brook, near Gambo. In 1956 Union Electric formed the Rural Electric Company Limited to build a 600-horsepower hydro station at Middle Brook with a provision for plant capacity to be increased to 7,000 horsepower once load growth warranted it. In September 1956 Rural Electric asked for a government loan of $600,000 but after further consideration Bailey decided to delay the proposed hydro development because of the high interest which would be charged on the loan and advocated instead a more cautious plan which would build up sufficient load demand in the area first.
Consequently, in April 1957, he proposed to Premier Smallwood that two 150-kVA diesel-electric units be installed, one at Gambo and the other at Glovertown for a total cost of $163,000. They would serve over 750 homes in the two communities. Baily wrote Smallwood that "later as power demand increases, a grid system could be established hooking the various systems together for more efficient operations". However, concerned because of the cost and still interested in a more comprehensive provincial rural electrification scheme, the government postponed financial approval for the proposal. Instead, in 1958, the completion of the Rattling Brook hydro development by Newfoundland Light and Power enabled that company to provide service to the Gambo area.
Under a rural electrification agreement Union Electric signed with the province on October 9, 1959, the company extended rural service elsewhere on the Bonavista Peninsula. In 1960, for instance, it built 22 miles of line in the Port Blandford, Bonavista Bay area and four miles at Trouty, Trinity Bay for the Newfoundland Power Commission. In the decade after 1956 Union Electric continued to extend service on its own and continually added to its generating and distribution systems. In 1959 the company provided electrical service to the Musgravetown, Bloomfield, and Lethbridge areas of Bonavista Bay. By the early 1960s industrial and consumer demands had increased beyond those which Bailey had projected when planning the Lockston development, power consumption having doubled on the peninsula between 1954 and 1960. To meet the demand, in 1961 Union Electric increased the water storage system for the Lockston power station and installed new generating units at its three stations: at Lockston it was a second turbine with a 1,500-kW generating capacity, at Clarenville the power station was enlarged to hold two 100-kW and one 85-kW diesel unit, and Port Union got a 500-kW diesel unit, which required an extension of the power station building. During 1964 and 1965, the company extensively upgraded the distribution system and installed new transformers, circuits and longer poles to satisfy the increasing demands and growth of the system.
In 1964 Union Electric was planning to develop 6,000 kW of power at
Thorburn Falls near Port Blandford to supply the immediate Clarenville
area but abandoned the idea in favour of a tie-in with the Gander - St.
John's transmission line that Newfoundland Light and Power was building.
In 1965 Newfoundland Light and Power constructed a one-mile line to Clarenville
to connect its line to Union Electric's; power was supplied to Union Electric
in the spring of 1966." With this tie-in, the three long established private
utilities in Newfoundland were now physically interconnected; later in
1966 the three would strengthen that connection when they amalgamated to
form Newfoundland Light & Power Co. Ltd.