Early Electrification of Buffalo: 60-Hz Replaces 25-Hz


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Graph of 25-Hz & 60 Hz Load
Graph of 25-Hz & 60 Hz Load
This brings us up to 1930 when another great event took place, the start of the 60-Hz system in Western New York and the conversion from 25-Hz to 60-Hz. As outlined below, the conversion in Buffalo took 76 years. (Refer to the two-part article '25-Hz at Niagara Falls - end of an era on the Niagara Frontier' in the Jan/Feb and Mar/Apr 2008 issues of IEEE Power& Energy magazine)

1947 - The beginning of end of the 25-Hz system when the company announced no new 25-hz customers. In 1949 the last arc lights were discontinued. They were on Main Street in downtown Buffalo.i

1952 - Western Division 60-Hz peak load exceeded the 25-Hz peak load. In 1956 the Buffalo downtown dc Edison System was shut down.

1956 - Schoellkopf disaster which destroyed Stations 3B and 3C. 25 Hz was still available from other sources but at a higher cost. In the 1960’s the Shredded Wheat Company in Niagara Falls was the last two-phase four-wire customer.

1998 - New York Public service Commission approves the elimination of the 25-Hz system by December 31, 2007. Customer contributions were required if repairs exceed $25,000. In 2002 the company initiated an incentive program that provided a limited matching grant to retrofit customer equipment for 60-Hz operation

2006 - On October 12 at 8:53 pm, 66-kV transmission conductors came down during the ‘October Surprise’ snow storm. The five remaining customers elected not to contribute to the cost of repairs. Thus ended almost 110 years of 25-Hz service in Buffalo.


i. Related to the author by Jack Pfohl NMP Electric Planner, ca. 1953; author’s recollections. Adams, Niagara Power, 1:282, 288. Adams, Niagara Power, 2:270. Adams, Niagara Power, 1:284. Adams, Niagara Power, 2: 202-203, 287.
Adams, Niagara Power, 1:287-288. Adams, Niagara Power, 2:201-202.  Adams, Niagara Power, 1:285, 288. Adams, Niagara Power, 2:214, 283, 354.