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Insull became a master salesman for all things electric.
In order to use his generators more efficiently (i.e., run them at full capacity for more hours of the day), he offered to power elevators and streetcars during the daytime when there was less demand for electric lighting.
Most recently, electrons have powered the digital age to create what energy expert Vaclav Smil calls our “instantaneously interconnected global civilization.” Technology expert Mark Mills points out that electricity powers an increasing portion of our economy.
The always-on data centers that support the internet and “cloud computing” will continue to increase demand for electricity, overwhelming the modest decreases in electricity use in other parts of the economy, such as manufacturing processes. The ever-growing applications of electricity explain the increasing use of fuels like natural gas, oil, and coal in power generation as opposed to direct uses such as heating or transportation.
Insull also used high-voltage transmission lines to spread electricity to the suburbs and then to the countryside.
Because customers inside and outside cities used power at different times, Insull was able to provide power to both types of customers more efficiently than if he had served them independently.
That means 585.2 million people remain in the dark. Back to Top The Dawn of Electric Light in the U. One of the greatest pioneers in electricity was Thomas Edison, who saw electricity as his “field of fields”to “reorganize the life of the world.” Working tirelessly on electricity from his laboratory in New Jersey in the 1870s, America’s greatest inventor brought the incandescent electric light bulb into practical use by the end of that decade and patented the incandescent light bulb in 1880. “When Edison…snatched up the spark of Prometheus in his little pear-shaped glass bulb,”German historian Emil Ludwig observed, “it meant that fire had been discovered for the second time, that mankind had been delivered again from the curse of night.” Yet Edison’s electric light was even better than fire—it was brighter, more consistent, and safer than the flame of candles or lamps. Morgan and a few privileged customers in New York City in the 1880s to light their homes, pairing his new incandescent bulbs with small generators.Back to Top The Rise of an Industry In order for the magic of electricity to truly take hold in American life, new industries were needed to build the generators to supply electric power, as well as the new appliances and electric lights that used it. In September of that year, he opened the United States’ first central power plant in lower Manhattan—the Pearl Street Station. Edison connected a large bank of generators to homes and businesses (including the New York Times) in the immediate area through a network of buried copper wires.