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! Aberystwyth Hydro-Electric…

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Aberystwyth Hydro- Electric Scheme. LETTER BY DR HARRIES The following letter has been received from Dr. Harries on the proposed electric lighting scheme :—Sir,—The proposed hydro-eiectric scheme has already aroused considerable specu- lation and interest amongst the ratepayers, many of whom have little or no knowledge of the advantages and possibilities of electricity. They believe, or 1 should say have an idea, however, that there is something in it. It Is therefore only right that they should know all about it, as well as realize its vital importance to the town as a watering place and the benefit which would accrue from its adoption to both the rich and poor. Broadly speaking, the intention is to purchase the present Electric Works and to substitute water power for the present costly method oi water power for the present costly method of using coal, gas, or oil for generating the current, with the result of our having to pay 8d. per unit for lighting purposes, which puts it at once beyond the means of all except the rich classes. The poor are absolutely excluded. With water power the curent could be brought within reach of and to the benefit of the poorest, not only for lighting but also for cook- ing and heating, doing away with gas fires, gas cookers, kitchen ranges, and coal fires which cause so much trouble in laying and igniting. Electric cookers and heaters require no matches, paper, or firewood to set them going. Neither is the use of the poker or of tile ash pan re- quired. There are no offensive products, no dust, and none of the usual uangers insepar- able from gas and coal fires. The cook and kitchen maid have no trouble in keeping them- selves clean, neat, and tidy, morning, noon, and night. House work is reduced to a mini- mum and slavery abolished. The little work there is to be done becomes a pleasure. The girls' only regret will be the loss of the recurr- ing visits of the chimney sweep whose services will disappear with the advent of cheap electric current. All this might sound Utopian; but I can assure you it is nothing of the kind. The con- ditions referred to are already prevailing many countries where water power is plentilfil, and there is no reason why Aberystwyth should not be brought into line and vie with the best Italian towns. Let us now for a moment hark back to t' advantages of water over all other earthly powers. It is a natural power which can be harnessed without the aid of complicated machinery and without changing its composi- tion; whilst,, on the other hand, coal has to be consumed in order to generate steam or t form gas, entailing the use of costly and com- plicated machinery. The same applies to oil engines. Water power is free from all the above drawbacks and has the additional advan- tage of not being controlled or even affected in the least degree by colliery strikes or transport freights which influence the price of oil. That price in pre-war time was less than 50s. per ton, but is now JB15, or more. Coal is difficult to get and has gone up cent. per cent and has had to follow in its wake. Neither national or international conditions can in any way upset the equilibruim of a hydro-electric scheme at Aberystwyth. As long as we have the sea on one side and the Plynlimon range of moun- tains on the other, so long will the river Rheidol flow and yield the power which we intend utilizing for our hydro-electric scheme. H&ving at our command such enormous power given us by nature, it behoves us to take every advantage of her gift in order to add to the attractiveness of our town and to lessen our financial burdens. With the advent of a com- prehensive hydro-electric national scheme, such as the Government are contemplating, we may look forward to the establishment of new in- dustries in this country and in this district such as electro-chemical works, artificial silk and woollen factories, also paper mills, for all of which our soft water and pure air are particu- larly well suited. The old adage is "Where there is smoke, there's fire, and where there is cheap and clean power factories will be estab- lished-yes, factories without stacks and smoky chimneys. The future prosperity of our town rests with us. The time has come to act. Let us not spoil the ship for the sake of a pennyworth of tar. We must provide for all contingencies and demands and not forget that the great national scheme of electric power supply contemplated bv the Government will cause a great increase in the use of electricitiy for many purposes. Petrol- driven cars will give way to electrically-pro- pelled cars when charging centres are estab- lished all over the country. From that source alone we would reap enormous profits in the near future. Amongst the immediate advantages to the town would be cheap current for public and private lighting, as well as for cooking and heating. Corporation work, such as removal of house refuse, would be done by electric lorries at a quarter of the expense, of carts and horses. Steam, gas, and oil engines would disappear. I Electric launches would take the place of steam and petrol launches. Pumping of salt water for watering the streets and for filling the public baths would be done by electric current and, still more important, would be the pumping of sewage into the sea, thus doing away with the costly drainage scheme accepted by the Cor- poration to be carried out at a cost of £ 37,60U. As a matter of fact, that figure would not nearly cover the initial outlay. In addition, there would be working expenses, upkeep and depreciation to be met which I have no hesita- tion in saying would have ruined the town. Of that scheme I trust we shall hear no more. All that tlie town requires can be done by cheap electric current without spelling ruination. On the contrary, it would spell prosperity and pecuniary advantage. I have hardly touched the fringe of the advantages and possibilities of a comprehensive hydro-electric scheme; but have said enough to create a feeling of encourage- ment and hope in those who have had to use I electricity at 6d. and 8d. per unit and gas at 3s. 4d. per 1,000 cubic feet. I hope to revert shortly to this subject and to treat of the financial aspect of the scheme. Suffice it now to say that the word "hydro-electric" sounds the death knell of the figures 8d. per unit for elec- tric light and 3s. 4d. per 1,000 cubic feet for Vas with which we are now saddled.—Yours etc., T. D. Harries. Grosvenor House, Aberystwyth, January 23rd, 1918.

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