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New Edison power plant circa 1924

New Edison power plant circa 1924

Aug. 24, 1924: In the midst of a Southern California power shortage, construction is rushed on an addition to the Long Beach steam plant on Terminal Island. Owned by the Southern California Edison Co., the addition would double the capacity of the plant.

Under a sub-headline “Completion will relieve present power famine,” a story in the Aug. 24, 1924 Los Angeles Times reported:

Hidden away from the public eye, on Terminal Island, Long Beach, more than 1000 men, keyed up with a purpose to break construction records in order to meet a pressing emergency, are toiling night and day to complete one of the most tremendous mechanical plants in America. This vast work, which will create the enlarged Long Beach steam plant of the Southern California Edison Company, will represent an outlay of about $10,000,000. The addition and original plant cost $20,000,000.

On authority of H.G. Butler, power supervisor by appointment of the State Railroad Commission, in charge of the existing light and power shortage, the completion of this work will, barring mishaps, bring the need for conservation to an end by November 15, even should expected rains in the mountains fail to materialize….

The new machinery to be installed in the Long Beach plant will add 100,000 horsepower, making a total of nearly 200,000 horsepower. This is approximately equivalent to 300,000 kilowatts…

…capacity of the enlarged Long Beach plant will be sufficient for the average supply of ten cities the size of Long Beach, which now claims 130,000 and consumes 15,000 horsepower daily….

In November 1924, one inch of rain ended Southern California’s power shortage. An article in the Nov. 3, 1924 L.A. Times reported that the rain allowed full use of local hydroelectric plants. The rains and the new Long Beach steam plant “abolish the orders for the curtailment in the use of electric power which had been in effect since July 1.”

Many 4-inch-by-5-inch glass and film negatives in The Times’ archives have short, handwritten captions written on an edge — usually cropped out for publication. Written on left side of this negative is “New Edison Plant / Long Beach.”

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