The Hydro-Electric Plant of the Union Electric Company, Port Union



(Originally published in the Weekly Advocate, Nov. 13, 1920. Article made available courtesy of Mr. John Murphy, Port Union. Transcribed by Melvin Baker, October 1997)

The Hydro-Electric Plant of the Union Electric Company, Port Union (Catalina), is situated in the South-West Arm of Catalina Harbour. This plant is built on the Catalina River and is fed by such ponds as Catalina Gull Pond, Otter Pond, Diamond's Long Pond and Well's Pond. Dams have been placed at Gull Pond, about seven miles from the power house; also at Well's Pond, and a lake feeding the canal conveying water to the power house. The main dam is at Well's Pond. This dam is of stone, with two controlling gates, which controls the water feeding the canal and lake supplying water to the canal and power house. There is another stone dam placed a short distance from the canal. In this dam also is a controlling gate to enable water to be dammed from canal and lake should it be desired to do so. The canal is about 1200 feet long and about 15 feet wide and 10 feet deep. This canal furnishes water to the power house through a controlling gate and grating, and a wood-stave pipe 6 feet in diameter and 900 feet long. This pipe is reinforced by steel bands six inches apart; two steel branches are connected to this stave pipe, feeding No. 1 and No. 2 turbines, the water from these turbines discharging into Catalina harbour, 78 feet below.

The power station is built of concrete, 50 feet inside length and 30 feet wide, with a gable roof. In this power house is installed two pelton double discharge turbines operating under a head of 78 feet. Each turbine is 400 horsepower and 600 revolutions per minute. Each wheel is controlled by a pelton (self contained) oil pressure governor. Each turbine is direct connected to a general electric 350 K.V.A., 2,300 volt generator - 3 phase, 60 Cycle. An exciter is also direct connected to each wheel with a capacity of 6 K.W. and 125 volts compound wound interpole machines. The switchboard controlling this plant is also of general electric manufacture. The board is up-to-date in every respect, with each feeder controlled by automatic oil circuit breakers. One panel furnishing light, heat and power to Port Union, another panel furnishing heat and light to Catalina, and another panel controlling Bonavista transmission line.

The power for Bonavista is taken from Bonavista feeder panel at the power station at 2300 volts. It is then stepped up by a steel out-door sub-station to a pressure of 13,200 volts, and sent over a transmission line of 11 miles to Bonavista, where it is received and stepped down by a step-down sub-station at Bonavista. Both of these stations were purchased from the Westinghouse Company and are up-to-date in every respect, and the first of their kind installed in this Colony.

Each sub-station is equipped with the latest lightning arresters and horn gap controlling switches.

There are at present 100 houses fitted and ready for the electricity and fed by three phase local 2300 volt lines, extending throughout the town of Bonavista. The load is also being properly balanced between the phases.

The company expects in future to connect all residences and public buildings in Bonavista and surrounding nearby settlements. The new Unit with its generator and exciter was installed this year, also the steel step-up and step-down sub-stations, and the transmission lines to Bonavista. The local line through Bonavista was also run and 100 houses furnished with electric light.

Prior to closing it would not be amiss to mention the name of Mr. A.B. Smith and his brother, Mr. Ernest Smith, and the men of his staff who assisted these men in this undertaking, all of these men being inexperienced three years ago, when the Smiths started construction. They, one and all deserve credit for their task so well accomplished.

Mr. Arthur B. Smith, superintendent of construction of this work is a Conception Bay boy, son of the late George Smith, merchant.

Mr. Smith is a graduate of the Complete Electrical Engineering and Electric Power, Light and Railway courses with the international correspondence schools, Scranton, P.a., U.S.A. Mr. Smith entered the electrical profession as assistant in the Hydro Electric Plant at Petty Hr. This plant furnishes power, light and heat to the city of St. John's.

When the large hydro electric plant of the Anglo Nfld. Development Company opened up, Mr. Smith was offered the position with this company as hydro electric engineer, remaining with this company for nine years.

It was while Mr. Smith was at Grand Falls that he acted as consulting engineer for the Union Electric Company in laying out their plant at Catalina. When the machinery arrived and the plant was ready to install, Mr. Smith was offered the position of superintendent of construction by the Hon. W.F. Coaker, now Minister of Marine and Fisheries. He accepted this position and worked for two years in this capacity ably assisted by his brother, Mr. Ernest Smith, the plant being installed and successfully run by all inexperienced help.

Mr. Smith upon completion of the Port Union and Catalina end of the plant, severed his connections with the Union Electric Co. and entered the employ of the Reid electrical department, Mr. J.W. Morris as superintendent.

When the Union Electric Company was ready to proceed with the lay-out of Bonavista they engaged the services of Mr. Smith as consulting engineer and superintendent of construction, assisted again by his brother, Mr. E. Smith.

Both Mr. A.B. Smith and Mr. E. Smith and the boys that assisted them deserve great credit for the part played in the success of the Union Electric Plant at Catalina and Port Union and Bonavista.