Goes to the Country
Morris Llewellyn Cooke
Administrator, Rural Electrification Authority
of the REA program widens the social and economic significance
of the rural lines. By opening up a new and extensive market for
electrical and plumbing manufacturers and trades, through interesting
the farmer's purchasing power, REA gives labor and industry a
large share in its program. Electrical and plumbing supply agencies
will be eager to discover what equipment the farmer really needs,
and the market will be large enough to encourage the development
of new types of apparatus. The farmers will reap the benefits
of group wiring and plumbing installation by contract. Often the
cooperative will be found to be helpful in purchasing the new
equipment, since it has already proved highly satisfactory in
In the construction
and operation of lines as well as in the utilization field REA
welcomes cooperative action. It will continue to do this in the
belief that cooperative undertakings are enterprise in the best
sense of the word.
and assist cooperative groups, REA will offer advice through the
various departments. Suggestions as to organization, methods of
accounting, home demonstration projects, engineering practices,
will be at the disposal of these goups. As the program broadens,
neighboring cooperatives may find it economical and effective
to pool their efforts and statewide cooperatives, such as exist
today in Indiana and Ohio, will develop. The immediate and tangible
results will be to bring electricity to a large proportion of
American farms, to stimulate employment and manufacturing, and
to raise living standards in rural communities. The intangible
valuesbuilding self-reliance and training leaders in every
communityshould prove no less satisfying.
the mechanism of cooperatives alone, however, does REA hope to
bring forward leaders in the rural electrification movement. An
integral part of the ten-year program will be the training of
student engineers for this type of work. Properly qualified young
men having a public point of view will be given opportunity to
do practical field work in connection with REA projects. They
will, of course, be paid for their services, while at the same
time they will be acquiring first-hand experience in a most promising
branch of electrical enterprlse.
|This 1935 map dramatizes the opportunity
that faces the farmer, the electric industry and the REA,
as the ten-year program of electrification gets under way
Another important way in which REA seeks to
contribute to electrical progress is through stimulating research.
Its own efforts will doubtless be confined to immediate practical
problems, such as the attack on reducing line costs. Similarly,
REA will work toward increasing line efficiency, integrating small
systems into something like a "grid," and giving farmers the results
of experiments and demonstrations in electrifying farm operations.
Electrical manufacturing corporations like General Electric and
Westinghouse are already well equipped to carry on other types
of research as are also certain of the government bureaus.
The company laboratories have the facilities
for experimenting with new equipment for better and cheaper generation,
transmission, and distribution of electricity. Various government
agencies are qualified to test equipment and to investigate the
value of electricity for such purposes as heating, sterilizing,
and fertilizing soil. Numerous experiments on the effect of artificial
light on plant growth are already under way. Electric heating
and air cooling of greenhouses with a single type of apparatus
may soon prove practicable. Insect and pest control, sterilization
of feed, and innumerable other applications of electricity to
agriculture are in various stages of experimentation.
REA will cooperate with public and private
groups engaged in such research. Thus it hopes to become a clearing
house for new suggestions as they go to the laboratory and for
new applications after their value has been tested. So far we
have considered the ten-year electrification plan as a thing in
itself. Actually, however, it is part of the comprehensive program
envisioned in the National Resources Board report. Farm electrification,
by providing an essentially new market for almost unlimited tluantities
of power, makes its contribution to the justification for development
of our great water resources for public hydroelectric projects.
Modern engineering science has made the multiple purpose dam a
reality. Such a dam may impound flood waters, provide irrigation
and water supply reservoirs, regulate stream flow, and generate
in areas where we do not ordinarily build great clamsăthe lands
of little headwater streamsărural electrification can also make
a significant contribution to the solving of flood and land use
problems. Hundreds of tiny upstream dams, automatically controlled
by electricity, might be so developed as to regulate stream flow.
Waters that usually rush off the land can be held by improved
farming practices such as strip cropping and contour plowing.
The same methods retard erosion and so lessen the dangers of exhausted
land and of silt-destroyed dams.
studies the land use problems of its project areas, to avoid setting
up lines in marginal or submarginal regions from which the population
should, and doubtless will, move. But electricity can do as much
toward intensifying agriculture for us as it has done for France,
so that smaller areas will become capable of supporting more people.
This means that we shall be able gradually to withdraw unsuitable
lands from cultivation. It means, too, that scattered farms, with
their disproportionate expense to county, state and federal governments
for schools and roads, will tend to be eliminated.
conditions will partly check migration from farm to farm and from
farm to city. Conservation of the soil will go hand in hand with
the establishment of a permanent farm home, the constant improvement
of which will then become a source of pride. It is even possible
that with the advent of cheap and abundant power throughout the
countryside, industry itself may show a tendency to decentralize.
Whether this occurs or not, electricity will add immeasurahly
to the comfort, convenience, and profit of farming. In so far
as it contributes to the social and economic stability of our
agriculture, the rural electrification movement in America may
will claim a national victory.
of the People
nations are sending 3000 experts to the Third World Power
Conference to be held in Washington, September 7 to 12,
jointly sponsored and financed by the government and the
electric industry. Engineers, economists, public officials,
corporation heads, spokesmen for labor and consumer are
to participate in study and discussion of the forces that
turn the factory wheels, make possible the light and heat,
the comforts and conveniences of the world's power civilization.
While the Washington meeting will carry forward the general
study of the two preceding conferences, London (1924)
and Berlin (1930), and of interim sectional meetings,
it will stress not the purely technical side of power,
but national power economy in terms of its human advantages
and hazards, its problems of organizing, planning, managing
and controlling power. Elaborate conference exhibit, planned
to interest both layman and technician, illustrate the
latest developments in producing and using power.
before and after the meeting visitors from other countries
may take "study tours" which will show them Niagara, Boulder
Dam, TVA and practically every other method and center
of power production, transmission and utilization in this
country. The present effort to bring America abreast of
other nations in extending electrical power from cities
to farms and rural communities is here discussed by the
engineer who heads the Rural Electrification Administration
and who is also chairman of the executive committee of
the forthcoming Third World Power Conference.