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O U T L O O K IN

.AND POWER OCCUPATIONS

UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR . BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS



O C C U P A TIO N A L O UTLO O K SERIES • B U LL E TIN No. 944




Linemen at work on top of pole. These workers
make up the largest occupation in electric utilities.

Employment Outlook in
Electric Light and Power Occupations

Bulletin No. 944
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
M A U R IC E J. T O B IN , Secretary
B U R E A U O F L A B O R S T A T IS T IC S
E W A N C LA Q U E, Commissioner

For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U. S. Government Printing Office, Washington 25, D. C. Price 30 cents







Letter of Transmittal

U nited S tates D epartment of Labor,
B ureau of Labor S tatistics,

,

Washington D. C., September 23, 1948.

The Secretary

of Labor :

I have the honor to transmit herewith a report on the employment
outlook in electric light and power occupations. This is one of a series of
occupational studies prepared in the Bureau’s Occupational Outlook
Service for use in vocational counseling of veterans, young people in
schools, and others considering the choice of an occupation. The report
was prepared by Richard H. Lewis. Vincent Arkell assisted in the re­
search, and Bella D. Uranson assisted in the collection of the data.
The Bureau wishes to express its appreciation to the officials of trade
associations, trade-unions, electric light and power companies, and
Government agencies who have provided valuable information or read
all or part of the manuscript.
E wan Clague, Commissioner.

Hon. Maurice J. T obin,
Secretary of Labor.







Contents

Introduction............................................................................................................................
What are electric utility systems?..................................................................................
Function of utility systems........................................................................................
Importance of plant and equipment.......................................................................
How electricity is made and distributed..............................................................
Power plant operations ....................................................................................
Steam power p la n ts....................................................................................
Hydroelectric power plants ...................................................................
Internal combustion engine power plants...........................................
The transmission system ..................................................................................
The distribution network ..................................................................................
Publicly owned systems ............................................................................................
Concentration in large systems...............................................................................
Electric utility jobs .............................................................................................................
Kinds of jobs ................................................................................................................
Opportunities for w om en..........................................................................................
Where the jobs are fo u n d ........................................................................................
Working conditions and hazards ...........................................................................
Conditions of em ploym ent........................................................................................
Earnings ........................................................................................................................
Unions ............................................................................................................................
Outlook for employment in electric u tilitie s...........
Past trends—production and employment..........................................................
Early years of the industry.............................................................................
Great expansion during the twenties........................................................
Gains in the thirties despite depression. .
Effects of World War II..................................................................................
The early postwar period..................................................................................
Future demands for electric power.........................................................................
Industrial demands ............................................................................................
Commercial demands ........................................................................................
Household and farm demands.........................................................................
Demands of other users......................................................................................
Prospective levels of capacity and output............................................................
Effects of technological changes on labor requirements................................
Development of atomic energy. .....................................................................
Future trend of employment....................................................................................
Major electric light and power occupations—employment outlook, earnings,
duties, training, and qualifications .....................................................................
Electrical engineers.....................................................................................................
Duties ......................................................................................................................
Training and qualifications .............................................................................
Employment outlook ..........................................................................................
Earnings ................................................................................................................
Other technical workers ..........................................................................................
Jobs in the power plant ..........................................................................................




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Contents— continued

Duties ......................................................................................................................
Boiler operators ..........................................................................................
Turbine operators ......................................................................................
Auxiliary equipment operators..............................................................
Switchboard operators .............................................................................
Watch engineers ........................................................................................
Other w orkers..........................
Working conditions ............................................................................................
Training, qualifications, and advancement ...............................................
Employment outlook ..........................................................................................
Earnings ................................................................................................................
Transmission and distribution jobs .......................................................................
Load dispatchers .................................................................................................
Substation operators ..........................................................................................
Linemen and troublemen ..................................................................................
Cable splicers .......................................................................................................
Other transmission and distribution jobs .................................................
Groundmen ...................................................................................................
Patrolmen .....................................................................................................
Customer servicing jo b s ............................................................................................
Duties and training ............................................................................................
M eterm en...............................................1.....................................................
Meter readers ...............................................................................................
District representatives ...........................................................................
Other service w orkers................................................................................
Employment outlook . ......................................................................................
Earnings ................................................................................................................
Jobs in the administrative and commercial departments..............................
Appendix.—Capacity, production, and employment of electric utility systems,
1902-47

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47

Employment Outlook in
Electric Light and Power Occupations
Introduction

Just as Aladdin could summon the genie by
rubbing his magic lamp, so today people in
over 40 million homes, stores, and factories
can have the power of electricity at their
fingertips merely by snapping a switch. This
modern magic has been brought about through
the growth of electric utility systems which
generate electric current from steam power or
water power to be used for lighting, heating,
and cooking and to operate the machines and
electrical instruments which are typical of
modern industry. To bring power to the con­
sumer an elaborate set of facilities—power
plants, substations, overhead wires or under­
ground cables, and meters—is-required. Opera­
ting and maintaining this equipment and
carrying on the technical, commercial, and

administrative services are 330,000 employees
of privately and publicly owned power sys­
tems.
This industry is a major source of employ­
ment opportunities. Utility systems now
blanket the Nation, and electric power jobs are
found in all sections of the country. Many
diiferent types of technical and skilled workers
are needed to insure the dependable electrical
service that utility systems render, including
such workers as electrical engineers, power
plant operators, linemen and troublemen, meter
readers and repairmen, and workers in every
major office occupation. In many communities
the local utility is one of the best sources of
interesting and steady jobs.

What Are Electric Utility Systems?

An electric utility system is an organiza­
tion which uses a complex set of equipment
—power plant, substations, and wires—to
make electric current and carry it directly to
places where it is used. It is often convenient
to think of the operations of electric utilities
and the employment opportunities in them
mainly in terms of the privately owned com­
panies which make up the electric light and
power industry. They produce most of the
power consumed and employ the great bulk
of the workers in the field. Much of the discus­
sion of utility employment trends will relate




to the private systems. However, as we shall
see later, there are Federal and local govern­
ment owned utility systems operating in some
localities, and they are also an important
source of electrical jobs.
Function of Utility Systems

Electric light and power companies are in
business to sell a service rather than to pro­
duce and sell a tangible commodity. The
service they render is bringing electric cur­
rent right to the user from a central source.

1

Since each customer has access to the supply in publicly owned property such as streets,
of current by merely pushing a switch or a governmental bodies maintain certain controls
button, the companies must always stand over them. This is most important in the set­
ready to send over the wires the total amount ting of rates, which must be approved by the
of power needed by the consumers at any single governing agency, which is, in most States, a
moment. Electric power cannot efficiently be Public Utilities Commission. The Federal
stored in large quantities but is produced and Power Commission also has an important part
used almost simultaneously, passing instantly in regulating the activities of utility systems.
over the wires from the generators to the
electrical equipment of the customers.
Importance of Plant and Equipment
Thus a company must vary its output hour
The nature of the service that electric utili­
by hour as the needs of the users change. To
do this it must have production capacity ample ties render, involving the production and dis­
to handle the maximum demands for electric tribution of large quantities of power and
power that can be expected from its customers carrying it directly to a multitude of individual
at any one time, even though at other times, users, requires an extensive and complicated
such as during the hours between midnight system of physical facilities. Generating sta­
and 6 a. m., much of the equipment may stand tions, substations, transformers, and transmis­
idle. Because of the nature of the uses of elec­ sion and distribution lines are the major
tricity and the fact that production and use types of equipment included in the network
are almost simultaneous, uninterrupted service which takes power from the source to the user.
is very important. To ensure a continuous and A steady drive toward greater efficiency in
dependable supply of current to the users, a operations has stimulated the companies to
utility system must not only keep a staff of an increasing utilization of mechanical equip­
workers on duty at all times to operate its ment wherever possible and has resulted in
equipment but must be vigilant in maintaining larger and more complex power producing
the equipment and speedy in making emer­ units.
gency repairs.
As of the end of 1947, the facilities of
Electric utility systems, like telephone, tele­ privately owned electric utilities were valued
graph, and local transit services are considered at over 13 billion dollars. This represented a
public utilities. This is not only because of the larger investment than in any other industry
great importance of their service to the public, except railroads.
but because it has been considered best for
The fact that electric utilities depend so
efficient operation to allow only one company heavily on equipment affects the number and
to operate within a particular area. Otherwise kinds of jobs in several significant ways. In the
there might be wasteful and costly duplication first place, fewer employees are needed than
of services, and an impossible confusion of in other industries in comparison with the
electric lines. Thus the local governing body, volume of sales. The number of men required
which may be a city, town, or county, grants to actually operate the equipment is only a
the right to operate to one company. An indi­ small part of the total workers in the industry,
vidual home owner or a businessman cannot much less than the percentage of production
choose his power company as he does his grocer workers required in most other industries. The
or bank, but must buy current from the utility workers in the operating departments mainly
operating in his locality. Employment opportu­ control, regulate, and check the operation of the
nities in electrical work are also affected, equipment. Since the light and power industry
since those who want to work for a light and does not make a tangible product such as auto­
power company will usually find only one mobiles or radios, fabricating and assembly
work is not required.
possible employer in their community.
As a condition of granting this right to
Because of the great importance of the equip­
power companies to be the sole operators in a ment and the need for keeping it in good run­
specified area, and to place their equipment ning order, many of the workers in utility
2




systems are in maintenance jobs or in instal­
lation work. Also, since the operating staff is
relatively small, commercial and administrative
workers comprise a large part of the total
employment—much more so than in most other
fields.
As a result of the high degree of utilization
of equipment, the number of operating workers
needed at a particular time is more closely re­
lated to the production capacity of a utility
system than to its actual level of output. There
can be sharp changes in the output of elec­
tricity without corresponding changes in the
number of workers needed. Furthermore, since
the process is carried on by the equipment, with
manpower needed mainly to check and control,
the introduction of new and more efficient
equipment has made possible great increases
in output per worker employed. This has
limited the employment needs of the electric
light and power industry despite the tremen­
dous increases over the past several decades in
the quantities of electric current produced.
H ow Electricity is M a d e and Distributed

The easiest way to visualize the process of
making current in a central power plant and
furnishing it to a diversity of customers is to
follow it step by step through the three basic
operations—generation, transmission, and dis­
tribution. Chart 1 gives a simplified picture of
how the electric current is generated and then
flows from the generating station and through
the transmission and distribution systems to
the individual users.
The electric utility industry is unique be­
cause of certain characteristics of electricity
which make it differ from other commodities.
Electricity is an intangible force. Having no
dimensions it cannot be packaged, wrapped
up, and shipped to the customers. It cannot be
efficiently stored in large quantities but must
be used almost the same moment it is produced.
Each customer can begin to use current or
increase his consumption at any time by merely
pushing a button. For this reason a power
company must have a permanent installation
of equipment which provides for moving elec­
tricity in the required amounts to users as
their demands indicate. It is this instantaneous
816663 — 40—2




delivery of electricity to the user as he needs it
that is the distinctive feature of the operation
of electric-power companies.
Power Plant Operations

Electricity is produced in the power plant
through the operation of electric generators.
The principle upon which the generator oper­
ates is that when an electrical conductor, such
as copper wire, is moved across a magnetic
field an electric current is set up in the con­
ductor. The purpose of the generator is to
change mechanical energy to electric energy
by making use of this principle. A generator
consists mainly of two parts—a cylindrical
steel shell called the stator, and a steel drum
mounted upon a shaft which revolves inside the
shell and is called the rotor. The stator and the
rotor each has an elaborate set of electrical
coils and wiring mounted upon it. An electric
current is sent through the coils on the rotor to
create a magnetic field. The rotor is then re­
volved at great speed. When the lines of mag­
netic force from the magnetized rotor cut
across the coils on the stator (or armature)
an electric current is generated.
The amount of current produced depends
upon the size of the generator (the number of
windings and coils on the stator and the rotor)
and the speed at which the rotor revolves. This
speed ranges as high as 3,600 revolutions per
minute in some modern generators. The current
produced is usually alternating, that is, it re­
verses its flow at regular intervals, many times
per second.
The basic operation in the power plant is
providing the mechanical energy to drive the
shaft of the generator’s rotor. Although elec­
tricity is commonly thought of as a type of
power, in fact it is but a means of transmitting
the energy developed from basic sources of
power such as coal or waterfalls. Thus the
electric current serves the same purpose as the
transmission system of an automobile in carry­
ing the force developed by the engine and
applying it to the rear axle and wheels. Most
electric current is generated by power obtained
from one of these main sources: Steam pro­
duced by burning various fuels; the flow or
fall of water; or the operation of internal com-

3




C hart 1.— H ow electricity is made and brought to the users

bustion engines. Other sources of power are
available, such as windmills, but their use is
insignificant.
Steam is the most important source of power
for electric generation in this country. For­
merly steam engines were used to drive the
electric generators, but for many years the
force of the steam has been changed into elec­
tric energy by sending it through steam tur­
bines, which in turn drive the generators. In
1947 about 68 percent of the electric energy
was produced in steam power plants.
The second most important source of power
is that obtained from flowing or falling water.
The water turns the shaft of a turbine which
drives an electric generator. About 31 percent
of the electricity generated in 1947 was pro­
duced in hydroelectric power plan^p.
Internal combustion engines are frequently
used as a source of power for electric gener­
ating plants. Oil-fueled Diesel engines are the
main type employed. Internal combustion en­
gines are typically found in small power
plants, since steam plants can more efficiently
produce large quantities of current. Thus, even
though there are a large number of Diesel
generating stations, they produced only about
1 percent of the electric energy in 1947.
Steam Power Plants

In steam power plants, high temperature
steam is produced in large boilers. The fuel
burned in the furnaces is usually coal, but in
some sections of the country oil or natural gas
is the main source of heat. The steam produced
in the boiler is brought through pipes to the
turbine room, where it is directed with great
pressure and at high temperatures against the
blades of an enclosed turbine.
A steam turbine is a device which takes the
force of the steam and uses it to drive a re­
volving shaft. This shaft is coupled directly to
the shaft of the generator’s rotor, and the tur­
bine and generator are almost always housed
in a single unit. The turbine, which is based
upon the principle of the water wheel, has a
series of blades, buckets or vanes attached to
its shaft. The steam is ejected at great speed
from a set of nozzles. As it strikes the blades
or buckets it causes the shaft to revolve rapidly.
The steam passes from one set of blades to the




next in the enclosed turbine so that its force
is utilized to the maximum possible extent. In
addition to boilers and the turbogenerator
units—the basic equipment of the steam power
plant—there are several types of equipment
essential to efficient operation of a large gen­
erating station. Among the most important
types of auxiliary equipment are condensers,
which change the steam into water after it has
passed through the turbine, water pumps, coal
and ash handling equipment, fans and blowers,
and air compressors.
After the electricity is generated it passes
through a complicated process known as
switching before it flows out on the power lines
leading away from the generating station. The
current from all the various generators in the
power station is first combined in a set of con­
ductors called the bus system. A bus is made
up of a group of heavy copper bars or cables
supported upon insulators. The current is then
directed out onto the power lines by means of
a system of switches and circuit breakers. The
object of this operation is to see that each line
receives the amount of power required at the
time by the users it supplies. In a small system
these lines may be directly connected with dis­
tribution lines of the company, but in a large
system the power usually goes first onto the
high voltage transmission lines leading to sub­
stations. If the current is to go out over a
transmission line its voltage (force) must be
raised above the generating voltage by passing
it through a step-up transformer usually
located adjacent to the power plant.
The switching operations are controlled by
operators attending the switchboards in the
control room of the power plant. Instruments
in the control room, besides providing for the
switching of the current, also show the total
current leaving the station and the power load
on each line. The operators in the control room
also direct the starting and stopping of the
generators to meet the changing power require­
ments on the station.
Steam power plants are usually located near
the center of the area they supply so as to
reduce the distances that the current must be
transmitted. Their location is also affected by
the need for large quantities of cool water for
use in condensing the steam, so that where
5

Turbine operators must keep constant check on steam pressures and temperatures and the speed of the turbines. A turbogenerator
unit is shown in the background of this view of the turbine room.

possible they are placed on the banks of a
river or lake. As mentioned previously their
efficiency is greater in large sizes; new instal­
lations usually have large units of equipment,
and the total capacity of the plant is as large
as the power needs of its service area warrant.
Hydroelectric Power Plants

The operation of a hydroelectric power plant
differs considerably from steam generation.
The source of power is usually falling water,
the water being directed through a water
turbine to drive a generator. The fall of water
may be from either a natural source, such as
a waterfall, or an artificial one, as at a dam.
The height which the water drops is called the

6


“head.” It is this height, together with the
volume of the water flowing over a falls or
stored behind a dam, which determines the
amount of water power available at a partic­
ular installation. If the power plant is situated
at a waterfall, some of the water in the stream
is diverted from the falls and rushes down
through pipes to the turbines at the foot of
the falls. To operate a power plant at a dam,
water is stored and then sent through large
pipes leading from the top of the dam to the
turbines in the power plant at the base of
the dam.
There are several different types of water
turbines, but each consists of a wheel or
“runner” mounted upon a shaft. The runner has
blades, vanes, or buckets to receive the force

of the water, and the force of the water against
them turns the shaft. The water after passing
through the runner is discharged into the
stream. The shaft of the turbine is directly
connected with the generator. As it revolves
it drives the rotor of the generator, producing
the electric current. The current is controlled
and switched onto the power lines leading
away from the hydroelectric plant much the
same as in a steam power station.
It is obvious that hydroelectric power plants
are placed only at sites where water power
is or can be made available. However, their
location must be planned to the needs for elec­
tricity in particular areas because of the lim­
ited distances that electricity can be efficiently
transmitted. Considerable progress has been
made in increasing the distances that electric
lines can bring power from far-off hydroelec­
tric plants to the users in cities, but the farth­
est that current is now regularly sent is the
270 miles from Hoover Dam to Los Angeles.
Thus many locations suitable for hydroelectric
projects have not been developed because the
areas surrounding them are sparsely settled
and not industrialized and would have rela­
tively low electric power consumption. On the
other hand the densely populated eastern sec­
tions of the country are located at too great
distances from the western areas which con­
tain most of the potential sites of large scale
hydroelectric power.
Most utility systems that have hydroelectric
power plants must maintain steam power plant
capacity in reserve to handle the power de­
mands during seasons when the volume of
water in the stream or storage dam is low.
Except for sites like Niagara Falls, which gets
a nearly steady flow of water from the Great
Lakes, and Hoover Dam, whose storage capac­
ity is very great, the output of hydroelectric
plants is affected by season-to-season and yearto-year changes in the amount of rainfall and
snowfall and the resultant water flow.
The generators used in hydroelectric power
plants are larger than steam-driven generators
of the same capacity. Water turbines revolve
at much lower rates of speed than do steam
turbines, and this reduces the output that can
be obtained from a generator of a particular
size.




Internal Com bustion Engine Power Plants

In the third type of power plant, internal
combustion engines drive the generators. Gaso­
line engines are sometimes used, but in most
cases oil-fueled Diesel engines are the source of
power. The production process is relatively
simple, each Diesel engine directly powering a
generator. Diesel generating plants are more
flexible than steam plants and produce cur­
rent in small quantities more efficiently than
steam equipment. On the other hand steam
plants have economies in large scale produc­
tion not possessed by Diesel plants. Since
Diesel engines are used mainly in the smaller
generating plants, the operations involved in
switching the current onto the power lines are
relatively simple.
The Transmission System

After the electricity leaves the power plant
it passes onto the transmission lines which
link the generating plant and the distribution
network serving the individual customers. The
purpose of the transmission system is to effi­
ciently take the electric current over relatively
long distances, or in large quantities to places
where it can be split up and fed into the dis­
tribution lines. Thus transmission lines may
carry the current from a distant hydroelectric
power plant to the city where it is to be used.
Or they may carry current from a power sta­
tion in a city to a substation in the outlying
areas served by the power company. Within
large cities, transmission lines carry power
from a central generating station to, the dis­
tribution substations in the various neighbor­
hoods. Transmission lines also serve to tie
together the separate generating stations of a
system so that power can be exchanged be­
tween them and the demand for electric power
be distributed among them, or to connect the
power facilities of separate systems. The trans­
mission system can be pictured as similar to
the main line of a railroad which carries a
large volume of freight in long freight trains
from one city to another—at the end of the line
the shipments being separated and sent over
many branch lines to their final destinations.
Power can be sent over wires more efficiently
if high voltages are used. Voltage is the meas­

7

ure of electrical force or pressure. Some elec­
tric energy is always lost (in heating the wires
or through escaping into the air) when it
passes through wires or other electrical con­
ductors. These power losses are reduced how­
ever when current is sent at high voltage. It
was to a considerable extent the development
of equipment and methods for raising the volt­
age of current and then reducing it for use
by consumers that made possible the establish­
ment of the complex large scale electric utility
systems that we have today. The transformer
is the most important single device used in
the transmission and distribution of electricity.
A transformer consists of an iron core sur­
rounded by two wire coils which are wound
in such a way that current passed through them
can be increased or decreased in voltage.
If electric power is to be sent over trans­
mission lines its voltage is raised by sending
it through a transformer in a step-up sub­
station, which may be located in the power
plant or adjacent to it. Often the transformers
are placed in the open in what is called a trans­
former yard or switch yard. Transmission lines
in outlying areas are usually carried on widely
spaced tall steel towers, stretching across the
countryside. In cities and other built up areas
the transmission lines are usually carried in
lead-sheathed underground cables. The trans­
mission system ends at a step-down substation,
where transformers reduce the voltage to a
point where the power can be passed on to the
distribution system.
The Distribution Network

The step-down substation acts as a sort of
transfer station between the transmission lines
and the network of distribution lines. From it
run a large number of “primary” lines into the
various sections of the city or area served by
it. Thus not only is the current reduced in
voltage but the total quantity of power coming
in on the transmission lines is split up to be
sent out over the distribution lines, the amount
going out over each line at any one instant
depending upon the requirements of the users
served by it.
A distribution system can be pictured as
beginning with the substation and fanning out
8




into a spider web of lines from which in turn
other wires are run until the final user is
reached. A large industrial user may be served
by a line running directly from the substation.
But individual homes get their current from
“secondary” and “feeder” lines which branch
off from the main lines leading away from the
substation. These may run through several
residential or business blocks, individual drop­
off wires bringing the power into each building.
The main wires running from the substation
carry current which, even though reduced from
the transmission voltage, is still far too high
for use by individual customers in their lights
or appliances. To make the final step-down in
voltage “line” transformers are mounted along
the wires at points where “feeder” lines branch
off. Distribution lines are usually strung from
cross arms mounted on wooden poles. In the
heavily built up sections of cities, however, the
distribution lines are in underground cables
running in tunnels beneath the streets and are
reached through manholes placed at frequent
intervals.
As the electric power enters the wiring sys­
tem of the customer’s building it is measured
by passing it through a meter installed by the
utility. After the current is measured so that
the customer can be billed for his consumption
the physical operations of the utility in bring­
ing power to its customers are completed.
Publicly Owned Systems

Most of the electric power used in the United
States is produced by privately owned utility
companies. In recent years, however, various
public agencies have become increasingly im­
portant in its generation and distribution. At
the end of 1947, 10,335,525 kilowatts of capac­
ity, representing almost 20 percent of the
Nation’s total generating capacity, was publicly
owned. Almost half of the public capacity was
operated by agencies of the Federal Govern­
ment. Most of the remainder was in municipally
owned power systems. Public power districts,
covering portions of some States, and rural
cooperatives sponsored by the Rural Electrifi­
cation Administration had over 1,200,000 kilo­
watts of power capacity between them; most
of this was owned by the power districts.

The federally owned systems are operated
principally by the Bureau of Reclamation and
the Bonneville Power Administration of the
Department of the Interior, and the Tennessee
Valley Authority. The Corps of Engineers of
the War Department also operates a few plants.
Most of the federally owned generating capac­
ity is in hydroelectric plants which obtain
water power from large storage dams. These
dams were usually built as part of reclamation,
navigation, or flood control projects and serve
these purposes as well. Hoover Dam on the
Colorado River and the dams of the Tennessee
Valley Authority are examples of this dual
function. Except for the Tennessee Valley
Authority, which provides power to most of
Tennessee and parts of Alabama, Kentucky,
North Carolina, and Mississippi, most of the
Federal power projects are located in the west­
ern sections of the country.
The federally operated facilities are limited
mainly to generating plants and to high volt­
age transmission lines which take the current
from the powerhouse to connecting points with
the distribution lines of other systems. Most
of the power generated is sold either to large
industrial users or to privately owned or pub­
licly owned utilities, which then distribute it
to their individual customers. For example, a
large part of the electric power from Hoover
Dam goes to the Los Angeles municipal power
system, which then resells it to homes and
factories in Los Angeles. Since the biggest
share of the employment in electric utility
operations is required for distribution of the
power to individual customers and in billing
them for it, employment in Federal power
projects is much less than would appear
when considering their large generating ca­
pacity.
A few large cities operate their own electric
power systems, but most of the municipal
systems are in the smaller cities and towns.
Many of these have found it more efficient to
buy their power from larger utilities, either
private or Federal, and merely distribute it to
individual users in the community.
The rural electrical cooperatives are not
government owned or operated but are financed
by loans from the Rural Electrification Ad­
ministration, a Federal agency, which also




provides technical assistance and administra­
tive guidance. Each cooperative is owned and
controlled by its members, who are mainly
farmers in the area served. The program of
federally sponsored rural cooperatives was
begun only a little over a decade ago but has
grown rapidly until now over 2,250,000 cus­
tomers are served. Most of these are on farms,
but many are in the small towns in the rural
areas. Most of the co-ops do not make their
own electric power but buy it from other
systems—both private and Federal. Their
principal purpose is to extend power lines into
the areas that are not reached by existing
utility systems and thus give farmers the
benefits of electric service. In the first part of
1948 the 925 active co-ops had almost 700,000
miles of power lines in operation. Although not
a major source of employment, the co-ops have
opened up electric utility jobs in areas where
none existed before and should interest those
who want to get in electrical jobs in rural
regions. In the local cooperatives there are
jobs for such workers as managers, account­
ants, engineers, linemen, and metermen.
Concentration in Large Systems

Although there are more than 4,000 electric
utility systems in the United States, including
the publicly owned and the cooperatives, most
of the generating capacity and the employment
is concentrated in a relatively few systems. In
1946 for example, 35 companies had 60 percent
of the total generating capacity operated by
class A and B privately owned utilities (which
include all except the very small systems).
Most of the federally operated capacity is in
large projects, and there are several large
municipal systems which account for a good
share of the municipal capacity. Most of the
rural cooperatives are relatively small.
The situation is similar with respect to em­
ployment. Although there were many systems
with a small number of employees scattered
throughout the country, companies with more
than 250 workers had more than 93 percent of
the private utility employment in July 1945.
A high proportion of the power produced
comes from a relatively few large size generat­
ing plants. This is especially the case in steam
9

generating plants, where, up to a certain point,
the efficiency of generation increases with the
size of the units of equipment. At the end of
1946, almost two-thirds of the total capacity
in class A and B privately owned steam gen­
erating plants was in plants with over 100,000
kilowatts of installed capacity, even though
there were only 94 stations of this size out of
a total of 650. The average size of the privately
operated hydroelectric plants was much
smaller. Internal combustion engine plants are
typically small, since their maximum efficiency

is reached at relatively small sizes. Only 4 of
the privately owned internal combustion engine
generating plants had more than 5,000 kilo­
watts capacity in 1946. A good share of the
federally owned generating capacity is in large
hydroelectric installations such as at Grand
Coulee and Hoover Dams. The capacity of the
generating plant at Hoover Dam is over
1,000,000 kilowatts, and Grand Coulee Dam in
the State of Washington will eventually have
almost 2,000,000 kilowatts when its power
plants are completed.

Electric Utility Jobs

Electric utility systems are one of the most
important sources of employment. It is es­
timated that in June 1948 more than 330,000
workers were engaged in electric power opera­
tions. The bulk of these, 279,000, were em­
ployed by privately owned systems. Almost
36,000 worked for municipalities or local power
districts covering portions of States, most of
them in the municipal systems. Federal opera­
tions accounted for almost 6,000 electric utility
employees and rural cooperatives had about
11,000. The totals for private systems include
some workers on nonelectrical operations in
companies that provide other services, such as
gas or local transit, in addition to electric
service.

in the list below. Also in or connected with the
generating station are the switchboard opera­
tors, whose job it is to control the movement
of the current on to the power lines which
carry it away from the generating station.
These and the related workers needed for the
actual generation of the electricity amount to
C h art 2.— Administrative, technical, and commercial
activities employ almost 40 percent of the workers

Percent of Totol Employment

Kinds of Jobs

A look at the different kinds of workers
needed in the electric utility operations shows
at once that there is a great diversity of jobs.
Chart 2 shows the relative importance of the
major job groups included in the labor force of
the privately owned electric light and power in­
dustry. First there are the basic jobs in the
generation of electricity, those of the power
plant workers. These include boiler operators,
turbine operators, and auxiliary equipment
operators who watch over and check the equip­
ment which produces the power, and the watch
engineers who supervise them. Estimates of
the number employed in the individual powerplant occupations and also of some of the more
important jobs in other departments are given

10



.#
Jfi£44
/
//✓ 44 /
\

A

^

(J f.t S

UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS

* <0

f
44t

only 15 percent of the private electric utility
employees.

the service. In rural areas it is common to
employ men called district representatives,
who, in addition to reading meters periodically,
Estimated
employment,
act as a company’s local agent to receive re­
Occupations
April 1948
ports of service break-downs and handle less
Electrical engineers (including those in
important matters that come up between the
administrative positions) .............
16,000
electric company and its customers in localities
Power plant occupations:
Auxiliary equipment operators. .. 5,000
where the company does not have an office.
Boiler operators ................................ 5,700
The operation of an electric utility system is
Switchboard operators ................... 5,200
largely a matter of keeping the equipment run­
Turbine operators ........................
4,000
ning efficiently, so it is natural that a large
Watch engineers................................ 2,200
force of maintenance workers should be re­
Transmission and distribution occupa­
tions :
quired. Maintenance and custodial employees,
Cable splicers .................................... 1,400
excluding those who work on the lines, cables,
Groundmen........................................... 12,000
and meters, comprise about 14 percent of pri­
Linemen and troublemen ............... 23,000
vate electric utility employment. Among the
Load dispatchers .............................. 1,500
more important workers in the maintenance
Substation operators ........................ 8,000
shops are electricians, machinists, mechanics,
Customer servicing occupations:
District representatives ................. 3,000
boilermakers, painters, carpenters, and welders.
Metermen ............................................. 5,500
Because of the nature of its services and the
Meter readers ..................................... 6,600
way its production is carried on, the electric
A somewhat larger number of employees light and power industry employs a higher
are engaged in the next stage of getting elec­ proportion of administrative, technical, and
tric power to the users—the transmission lines commercial employees than do most other
and the distribution networks. The workers in industries. In the industry as a whole almost
the transmission and distribution department, 40 percent of the workers were in such jobs.
which requires about 23 percent of the private In many companies there were as many of
utility employees, include substation operators these office employees as there were of the pro­
who control the transformers and switching duction and maintenance workers combined.
equipment, and linemen who install and repair For this reason, power companies are one of
overhead lines. Cable splicers set in place and the most important sources of jobs for ac­
maintain underground cables. Load dispatchers counting, clerical, and other office employees
although relatively few in number are the key in many localities. The relative importance of
workers of the entire production and distribu­ office employees in the industry is accounted
tion operations, for they control the flow of for partly by work involved in billing and
electric current throughout the utility system. collecting from the multitude of individual
Other workers in this department are the customers; and also by the fact that large
groundmen who assist the line crews, the numbers of workers are not needed in the
laborers who help construct underground cable actual generation of electric power.
systems, and the patrolmen who walk along the
In addition to preparing bills and keeping
electric lines in isolated areas to look for con­ records of customers’ accounts, clerical workers
ditions that could cause trouble on the lines are also used to maintain the general financial
records of the company, to purchase new sup­
and equipment.
Another group of workers who help to carry plies and equipment, and to maintain extensive
on the actual operation of electric utilities inventory records for them.
Electric utility systems employ staffs of tech­
are those in customer servicing jobs. Among
this group, which accounts for about 10 per­ nical workers whose duties are not closely con­
cent of utility employment, are the metermen nected with day-to-day operations but whose
who test and repair meters and the meter function it is to plan for generating plant addi­
readers who record the consumption of electric tions and installations of new transmission
current so that the customers can be billed for and distribution equipment, supervise or inspect
816663— 49—3




11

in electric utilities, such as the power plant
workers and the linemen; and those whose
jobs are commonly found in other industries,
such as the maintenance, commercial, and
administrative employees.
Opportunities for W om en

Electricians are the most numerous of the maintenance workers
employed by utility systems.

the actual construction and installation, develop
improved operating methods, and test the
efficiency of the many types of electrical equip­
ment. Electrical engineers are the key members
of the technical staffs, and some mechanical
and civil engineers are employed for special
phases of the work. Large numbers of drafts­
men are also employed. In most electric
utilities, electrical engineers hold a large pro­
portion of the top supervisory and administra­
tive jobs. These men generally work their way
up through the technical and operating divi­
sions of the companies. Private utilities usually
employ a number of engineers in sales develop­
ment work whose job it is to aid industrial and
commercial customers in their utilization of
electrical equipment and lighting. They stimu­
late greater consumption of electricity by
demonstrating the advantages cf electrical
equipment and suggesting places where more
electricity can be effectively used.
After running through the various types of
jobs it is apparent that the workers in electric
light and power operations fall into two general
classes—those whose jobs are distinctively
electrical, in that they are found only or mainly

12


Only a few women are employed in the op­
erating or maintenance departments of electric
utilities, and these are mostly in clerical jobs
connected with operations. A large proportion
of the office employees in the administrative
and commercial departments are women, hold­
ing such jobs as bookkeeper, cashier, typist,
and clerk.
A special type of job opportunity for women
is provided by some utility systems, which have
staffs of women engaged in home service ac­
tivities. These women perform such jobs as
going into homes to advise women on the use
of electrical appliances, and giving lectures to
clubs and other groups of women on the use
of appliances, cooking, planning of menus, and
similar subjects. Part of the home economics
staff may be assigned to work in special
kitchens maintained by the utility, testing the
equipment and developing and testing recipes.
W here the Jobs are Found

Electric utility service now reaches into
almost every locality. Thus electric utility job
openings occur in small towns as well as large,
Utility systems employ large numbers of office workers for
administrative and commercial operations. This picture shows
the accounting department of a large utility company.

and in rural regions as well as urban, and
in the North, South, East, and West. While the
employment is widely scattered, most of the
jobs are still in the more heavily populated
areas, especially where industrialization is ex­
tensive. Large cities also have a disproportion­
ately large share, not only because they contain
many customers, including large industrial
users, but because the headquarters of most of
the large systems are in the cities. The percent
that each State had of the total electric light
and power employment in 1940 is shown on the
following page. Recently, the rapid extension
of electric service into rural areas has brought
more jobs into the smaller towns in farming
sections, and Federal hydroelectric projects
have opened up some new jobs in relatively
isolated areas.
W orking Conditions and Hazards

What a worker’s job is like depends pretty
much on what part of the system he is in. The
office jobs are of course similar to office work
in other fields, as far as the work surroundings
go. It is mainly in the generating plants and in
the transmission and distribution departments
that we find the distinctively electrical jobs.
There are considerable differences in the work­
ing conditions among the various types of jobs.
These are described in later sections of this
bulletin which summarize the information for
each occupation.
In certain occupations in the power and light
industry dangers of accidents resulting in
injury or death are always present. Yet the fre­
quency of accidents per man-hour worked is
much lower than in most manufacturing indus­
tries. In 1947 there were about 16 disabling
injuries among the employees of electric utility
systems for each million man-hours worked,
while the average rate in manufacturing indus­
tries was about 20 injuries. Though the injury
rate is not high, when injuries do occur they
may be serious. Fatalities are not frequent, but
a larger percentage of the injuries result in
death than in most other industries. Accidents
are most frequent among line crews and cable
splicing crews. Among the more frequent
causes of these injuries are falls from poles and
towers, blows from falling or flying objects, elec­




trical shock and electrocution, accidents caused
by tools, and motor vehicle accidents. Around
the generating plant and substations failure to
observe safety regulations while around high
voltage lines and equipment may end in death.
These accidents, however, are not common.
Because of the dangers of electrocution and
other hazards, the electric companies have
made intensive efforts to enforce safe working
practices. Accidents are usually due to care­
lessness rather than to defective equipment.
Workers may lose their jobs for not following
safety regulations.
Conditions of Employment

Not many industries offer the worker as
much security of employment as does the power
and light industry. Electric utility companies
are not as likely to slash pay rolls in business
depressions as most industries, because the
demands for power hold up fairly well in such
periods. There is little variation in employment
between seasons of the year. Most utility
workers are covered by pension systems, since
the majority' of the larger companies have
them. A large number of the companies also
protect the worker against sickness and ac­
cident with benefit provisions and insurance.
Over half of the utility systems have paid sick
leave plans covering both plant and office
workers. The steadiness of utility employment
is shown by the large numbers of workers who
have been with the same company for more
than 20 or 30 years.
Among other advantages of employment in
this industry are moderate hours and annual
vacations with pay. The 40-hour week is the
normal workweek throughout the industry and
2-week vacations with pay are the general
practice.
Earnings

Hourly earnings in this industry are higher
than in most other public utility and manufac­
turing industries, but they are considerably
lower than earnings in such high-paying indus­
tries as automobile manufacturing and petro­
leum refining. In March 1948, employees of the
privately owned electric utility companies,

13

Electric utility jobs are found in every section of the country, but 7 States have over half of the workers
Percentage distribution of electric light and power employment, by region and State, 1940

Percent of
total

Region and State

Percent of
total

....

100.0

New England ....................................
Maine .....................................................
New Hampshire ........................
Vermont ................................................
Massachusetts ............................
Rhode Isla n d ..............................
Connecticut ................................

6.8
.7
.5
.3
3.5
.6
1.2

South Atlantic—Continued
Virginia .......................................
West V irgin ia............................
North Carolina .............................
South Carolina ................................
G eorgia.........................................
j Florida .........................................

1.5
1.2
1.6
.7
1.4
1.2

Middle Atlantic ................................
New York ..........................................
New Jersey ........................................
Pennsylvania .....................................

28.9
15.4
5.2
8.3

East South Central .
Kentucky .....................................
Tennessee.....................................
A labam a ................................................
M ississippi ...........................................

4.2
1.0
1.4
1.2
.6

East North Central .<.............................
Ohio ........................................................
In d ian a ................................................
Illinois ..................................................
Michigan .............................................
W isconsin .............................................

22.3
5.7
2.6
7.2
4.8
2.0

West South Central
Arkansas .............................................
Louisiana .............................................
Oklahoma .............................................
Texas .....................................................

6.0
.6
.9
.9
3.6

West North Central
...................
Minnesota ........................................
Iowa .....................................................
Missouri .......................................
AT ortn uaKoia ............................
I lolrAro
in
OOUtn 1/aKOla ..................................
Nebraska
..........................
XT
ivansas ..................................................

8.4
1.7
1.6
2.3
.3
.3

M ountain ........................................................
M ontana ................................................
Idaho ........................................................
Wyoming ............................. ................
Colorado ................................................
New Mexico .....................................
A rizona.........................................
Utah ........................................................
Nevada ...................................................

3.2
.5
.4

South Atlantic
...........................
Rplflwarp
................
Maryland
...................
District of Colum bia ...................

10.2
.2
1.9
.5

Region and State

United States . .

A M MAM

Source: Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940,

14




Q
•U

1.3

.2

.8
.2

.4
.5
.2

Pacific ............................................................. 10.0
Washington ........................................ . 1.7
Oregon ...................................................
1.1
California ...........................................
7.2

which each month report their employment and
pay rolls to the Bureau of Labor Statistics,
averaged 140.8 cents an hour. This average in­
cluded premium pay for work in excess of 40
hours a week, and any pay differentials for
night shifts. In comparison, the 1939 average
was 86.9 cents an hour, while the highest peak
reached during the war years was 114.6 cents
an hour in July 1945.
Within the industry, several factors influence
wage rates paid by individual companies, such
as the size of the system and its geographic
location. According to a special wage survey
made by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in
March and April 1948, the larger systems
generally paid higher wages than smaller
companies. Geographically the highest wage
rates were found in the Pacific Coast States,
the second best pay area being the Great Lakes
region. In general the lowest wage scales were
in the southeastern section of the country.
There are also considerable differences be­
tween individual occupations in the pay
received. Load dispatchers earned the most,
with an average of $1.94 an hour. Watch engi­
neers with $1.81 an hour were the next highest




paid, followed by the electricians engaged in
maintenance and repair work, who made $1.64
an hour.
The national averages for each occupation
are significant, but in choosing a job the pay
earned in particular regions or localities is
of equal interest. Table 1 presents both the
national and regional average earnings for the
operating, maintenance, and clerical workers
covered by the survey.
Unions

Approximately 90 percent of the workers in
the privately owned electric light and power
industry in 1948 were covered by union con­
tracts. The most important of the unions in the
field is the International Brotherhood of Elec­
trical Workers (AFL), which has over 75 per­
cent of the unionized workers. The Utility
Workers Union of America (CIO) and a num­
ber of independent, unaffiliated unions also
represent large numbers of workers. The larger
electric utility companies are generally organ­
ized to a greater extent than the smaller
companies.

15

T able

1.—Average hourly wage rates for selected occupations in the privately
owned electric utilities1, March-April 1948
Average straight-time hourly rates in —

Occupation and sex

United New Middle Border
States England Atlantic States

Operating, maintenance, and service jobs,
male:
Auxiliary-equipment operators ................. $1.35
Boiler operators ............................................. 1.48
District representatives ............................ 1.37
1.64
Electricians, maintenance .......................
Groundmen ..................................................... 1.07
Guards .............................................................. 1.24
Janitors ...........................................................
1.04
Linemen, journeymen ................................ 1.61
Load dispatchers .......................................... 1.94
Machinists, maintenance ............................ 1.63
Maintenance men, general u tility ........... 1.45
Mechanics, automotive ................................ 1.52
Mechanics, maintenance ......................... 1.53
Metermen, class A ...................................... 1.59
Metermen, class B ...................................... 1.36
Meter readers ............................................... 1.18
Patrolmen ....................................................... 1.43
Servicemen, appliance ................................ 1.45
Stock clerks ................................................... 1.24
Substation operators .................................... 1.53
Switchboard operators, class A ...............
Switchboard operators, class B ............... 1.60
Troublemen ..................................................... 1.37
1.63
Truck drivers ................................................. 1.32
Truck-driver-groundmen ............................ 1.26
Turbine operators ........................................
Watch engineers .......................................... 1.49
1.81
Watchmen ....................................................... 1.07
Clerical jobs, male:
Bookkeepers, hand ......................................
Clerks, accounting ...................................... 1.64
1.36
Clerks, general ............................................... 1.28
Clerical jobs, female:
Billing machine operators ..................... 1.02
Cashiers ............................................................
.97
Clerks, accounting ...................................... 1.23
Clerks, general ............................................ 1.03
Clerks, pay-roll ............................................. 1.17
Clerk-typists ...................................................
.92
Stenographers, general .............................. 1.05
Switchboard operators ................................ 1.06
Typists, class A ........................................... 1.13




Middle
West

South­
west

Moun­
tain

Pacific

$1.41
$1.12
1.60
1.36
1.53
1.26
1.70
1.48
1.13
.91
1.32
.96
.73 . 1.13
1.63
1.47
2.00
1.76
1.75
1.54
1.49
1.45
1.53
1.43
1.56
1.42
1.60
1.46
1.41
1.20
1.21
1.08
1.35
1.40
1.49
1.40
1.28
1.26
1.64
1.19
1.73
1.39
1.37
1.11
1.62
1.57
1.37
1.04
1.30
1.10
1.61
1.38
1.93
1.57
1.20
.89

$1.23
1.30
1.23
1.67
1.00
__
.91
1.48
1.71
1.57
1.29
1.51
1.42
1.53
1.31
1.13
1.49
1.39
1.17
1.49
1.47
1.38
1.55
1.30
1.18
1.36
1.63
1.08

$1.22
1.37
1.59
1.60
1.00
.97
.82
1.58
1.68
1.57
.99
1.42
1.53
1.58
1.18
1.09
1.17
1.40
1.02
1.23
1.53
1.29
1.49
1.12
1.25
1.45
1.66
.90

$1.27
1.34
1.68
1.58
1.12
1.14
1.00
1.61
1.70
1.52
1.48
1.49
1.54
1.55
1.33
1.13
1.24
1.35
1.20
1.47
1.56
1.16
1.62
1.31
1.18
1.59
1.61
1.04

$1.69
1.60
1.61
1.91
1.38
(2)
1.21
1.87
2.16
1.85
1.54
1.75
1.68
1.87
1.68
1.35
1.70
1.66
1.49
1.69
1.76
1.75
1.87
1.51
1.54
1.68
1.83
1.20

$1.33
1.45
1.34
1.61
1.15
1.22
1.11
1.59
2.16
1.66
1.57
1.43
1.57
1.53
1.32
1.15
1.33
1.42
1.23
1.51
1.49
1.30
1.76
1.32
1.34
1.45
1.89
1.18

$1.39
1.49
1.54
1.55
1.07
1.23
1.07
1.59
1.97
1.54
1.48
1.52
1.50
1.61
1.36
1.15
1.45
1.39
1.21
1.49
1.66
L40
1.69
1.40
1.29
1.47
1.92
1.06

$1.25
1.57
1.13
1.57
1.01
1.27
.94
1.50
1.91
1.48
1.35
1.44
1.63
1.65
1.36
1.22
1.56
1.34
1.30
1.53
1.54
1.35
1.60
1.13
1.07
1.33
1.96
.93

1.69
1.23
1.41

1.99
1.52
1.35

1.67
1.21
(2)

1.61
1.27
1.20

1.62
1.38
1.26

1.25
1.05
1.06

1.62
1.21
1.20

1.50
1.34
1.33

1.92
1.61
1.56

1.03
1.01
1.02
1.22
1.15
.91
1.07
1.06
1.02

1.13
1.01
1.27
1.03
1.13
.91
1.03
1.12
1.31

1.04
.86
.94
.90
1.18
.87
1.00
.96
.97

.96
.97
1.07
1.02
1.07
.82
1.05
.95
1.18

.96
1.10
1.65
.96
1.21
.94
1.07
1.05
1.05

.89
.74
.80
.85
.94
.77
.97
.90
(2)

.97
.92
1.12
.92
1.18
.82
1.01
.92
.95

.97
.95
1.15
1.39
1.16
.85
1.10
.94
1.07

1.27
1.29
1.44
1.24
1.46
1.28
1.26
1.30
1.25

1 Excludes workers in systems with less than 100 employees.
Averages shown are straight-time hourly earnings excluding pre­
mium pay for overtime and night work.

16

Great
Lakes

South­
east

2 Insufficient number of workers to justify presentation of an
average.
Source: Wage Structure, Electric and Gas Utilities, 1948 (mimeo­
graphed), Division of Wage Analysis, Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Outlook for Employment in Electric Utilities

Past Trends— Production and Employment

Early Years of the Industry

An examination of the development of an
industry—how it got started, the way it grew,
and the place it has attained in the economy—
reveals much about the factors which caused
it to grow. This is important in considering the
future possibilities of growth, since the future
effects of these factors can be evaluated and
related to expectations of economic change. For
example, when we can measure the past effects
of increasing population upon the demands for
a product, we can apply what we know about
future population trends to help appraise the
outlook.

Although Faraday invented the electric
generator in 1832, it was not until 1882 that
there was an electric utility system distributing
electricity from a central power plant. Before
Edison's Pearl Street generating station, which
served only a few hundred customers within a
mile or so in New York City, began operating,
electricity had been used only where it was
made. The success of the first system encour­
aged the establishment of similar ones in other
localities, and by 1902 there were over 3,000
systems in operation.

Ch art 3.— Employment and output per man-hour in privately owned electric utilities

O

1902

------------- nor

|

1907

1912

1917

1922

1927

1932

!937

avauaoie

1942

q

1947

UNITEO STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS




17

The first systems were usually quite small
and served only limited areas because of tech­
nical difficulties in distributing electric power.
The introduction of alternating current genera­
tors and improved transformers during the
1890’s enabled the wider distribution of elec­
tric energy. The adoption of the steam turbine
and the building of larger generating plants
beginning about 1905 contributed to a signifi­
cant increase in the efficiency of power plant
operations. The output of the early systems had
been used mainly for lighting, but the rapid
introduction of the electric motor into the
Nation’s factories between 1900 and 1915 soon
made industrial plants the largest users of
electric power.
Between 1902 and 1917 the growing de­
mands for electricity caused the capacity of
utility systems to be expanded from 1,200,000
kilowatts to 9 million kilowatts. Over the same
period, output was increased 10-fold, rising
from 21/2 billion kilowatt-hours to more than
25 billion. Chart 3 shows the large increase in
the number of electric utility employees. Em­
ployment in private systems grew from 27,000
in 1902 to 95,000 in 1917, while the number of
workers in municipally operated systems rose
from 3,400 to almost 11,000. The increasing
efficiency of utility operations is revealed by
the relatively larger expansion of output than
employment.
Great Expansion During the Twenties

The urgent demands for electricity during
World War I helped to demonstrate the great
potential market for electric service. Beginning
in 1920 the electric power industry embarked
on a vast expansion program that carried
through until the depression of the 1930’s and
more than doubled its capacity. At the end of
1920 total utility capacity, including both
privately and publicly owned plants, amounted
to almost 13 million kilowatts. By 1925, as
chart 4 shows, capacity had been raised sub­
stantially. In that year it was 21,500,000 kilo­
watts and in 1931 it reached 33,700,000 kilo­
watts. With these additions total capacity had
increased more than 25-fold since 1902. During
18




the 20’s, output of utility systems kept pace
fairly well with the growth in generating
capacity, increasing from 39 billion kilowatthours in 1920 to 92 billion in 1929.
C h art 4.— Rapidly rising capacity and production show
growth of electric utilities

To operate their additional capacity and
carry on the greatly expanded production the
electric light and power companies added em­
ployees to their pay rolls at a record rate dur­
ing the 1920’s. Employment in privately owned
systems was 71,400 in 1912 and rose to
94,700 in 1917. By 1922 the companies em­
ployed 136,100 workers, but the big expansion
was yet to come. Between 1922 and 1927, as the
steep line on chart 3 shows, employment in the
private electric power industry jumped by
almost 100,000 to a new high figure of 234,700.
The number of jobs continued to grow at about
the same rate until an average of 288,000 were
on the pay rolls in 1930. Employment hit
297,000 in the highest month of that year, a
peak that has not again been reached.

Many of the additional employees were
engaged in planning for new facilities or in the
actual construction of new generating plants,
substations, and power lines. A good share of
the newly hired workers also were taken on
to operate and maintain the added equipment.
Another important cause of the large increase
in employment was the enlarged administra­
tive, technical, planning, and commercial activi­
ties of the companies, which resulted in greater
needs for salaried employees. More than 45,000
salaried employees were added to the pay rolls
of the private utility companies between 1922
and 1927.
While the private utilities were expanding
their employment, the number of workers in
the municipal systems was going up at a slower
rate. Employment in these local systems
jumped from about 11,000 in 1917 to about
15,000 in 1922. Between 1922 and 1927, a
period when employment in the private com­
panies was gaining most rapidly, the municipal
systems added only 1,600 workers.
Gains in the Thirties Despite Depression

Along with practically every other industry,
the electric utility field was hit by the great
business depression which began in 1930. The
forces behind the rapid growth of the industry
were so strong however that even in 1932, the
bottom of the depression, the decline in the out­
put of current was relatively small. By 1935,
as chart 4 shows, the total kilowatt-hours
generated exceeded the previous peak which
occurred in 1929. The yearly output continued
to gain steadily during the rest of the decade
except for a slight drop in 1938. Total gener­
ating capacity remained virtually stationary
until the late thirties when the utility systems
began again to add some new facilities.
The upward trend in the demands for cur­
rent in the face of depressed industrial condi­
tions and low incomes was, to a large extent,
the result of the continued development of new
uses for electricity and the wider adoption of
existing uses. The average number of kilowatthours used by residential customers increased
sharply during this period—largely because
more and more electrical household appliances
816S63—49—4




were going into the Nation’s homes. Industrial
plants striving for more efficient production
were installing additional electrical powered
machinery and electrical control equipment.
The use of electricity in metallurgical processes
such as steel making and aluminum refining
was steadily growing.
Even though the demands for electricity
were not substantially reduced during the de­
pression, employment in the light and power
industry was hard hit, falling from an average
of 288,000 in 1930 to 212,000 in 1933. In the
latter part of the decade, when output of cur­
rent had exceeded the previous marks and was
growing rapidly, the number of jobs still re­
mained well below the 1930 level.
The failure of employment to keep pace with
production showed that the companies had
made substantial increases in output per
worker during this period. These increases re­
sulted to some extent from the low rate at
which additional capacity was constructed dur­
ing the period. Many utility employees in
normal times are engaged in work connected
with new facilities, such as planning, designing
and supervision, and some are in actual con­
struction work. A large share of the increased
efficiency undoubtedly was obtained by a gen­
eral tightening up of operations, and improved
methods and equipment.
However, the electric utilities were able to
increase their sales of current without propor­
tionate increases in employment requirements
partly because of the nature of their production
operations. Utility systems can often generate
and distribute fairly large additional quantities
of current with only a few new workers. This is
possible because so many of the utility jobs in­
volve mainly controlling, watching, or main­
taining equipment, and because equipment
already in use can handle more output without
many additional workers. Large numbers of
additional employees are needed only when
production capacity is expanded to take care
of the increased demands for power.
Effects of W orld W ar II

Entry of the United States into the war in
December 1941 found the electric utility sys-

19

terns already affected by greatly increased de­
mands for current. The defense boom of 1941
had brought an increase in output to 165 bil­
lion kilowatt-hours, compared with 128 billion
in 1939. Capacity had already begun to be
expanded in response to the general upward
trend in consumption and totaled 42 million
kilowatts by the end of 1941.
As the war production program grew in
volume the industrial requirements for current
were intensified. Besides powering the ma­
chines and lighting the factories, electricity is
used in tremendous quantities in certain chem­
ical and metallurgical processes essential to
military production. The peak war production
of the utilities was 228 billion kilowatt-hours
in 1944, an increase of 38 percent over 1941
and 79 percent over 1939. Over two-thirds of
the increase in power sales between 1939 and
1944 went to industrial plants.
Although considerable generating capacity
was added to the utility systems during the
war, the increase was on a relatively small
scale considering the heavy demands for power
upon the systems. The immediate nature of the
demands, compared with the relatively long
period it takes to plan, produce, and install new
generating facilities, was one factor limiting
expansion. The greater priority given to mili­
tary equipment, whose production drew upon
the same materials and manpower, also curtailed
the possible increases in generating capacity.
At the end of 1944, capacity totaled 49,200,000
kilowatts, an increase of about 7 million
over 1941.
Although in some areas there was a strain
upon the generating capacity, essential needs
for electric power were largely met. Rationing
of current was not put into effect, but nonessen­
tial uses were curtailed by orders which limited
the hours of operation of certain types of busi­
nesses and restricted commercial lighting such
as signs and store windows.
One important development which helped
the industry meet the demands upon it, was
a marked increase in the load factor. Put
simply, this meant that use of power was
spread more evenly over the 24 hours of the

20




day. Utility capacity is planned to meet the
highest total demands upon it at any one time.
Total power demands fluctuate from hour to
hour, with the peak demand on most systems
now coming during the morning, though on
some it occurs during the late afternoon or
early evening.
During the war many industrial plants added
second and third shifts, which used current in
the late evening and early morning (before
7 a.m.). Since power demands and the percent­
age of generating capacity used are usually
low during these hours, the consumption of the
night-shift operations increased total produc­
tion of current without requiring more capac­
ity. Shifting electric power from one utility
system to another to meet the varying peak
demands of their consumers was done by pro­
viding more interconnection between systems.
This method of efficiently utilizing the capacity
available was important in filling the total
power needs.
One of the most striking features of the
utilities’ successful effort to supply the war­
time power requirements was that the great
increases in output were achieved with sub­
stantially fewer workers than were employed
in 1940. In 1944, the year of peak wartime
output, employment in the private utilities was
lower than it had been even in 1933, the bottom
of the depression. Average employment in
private utilities declined from 255,000 in 1941
to 211,000 in 1943 and 203,000 in 1944. Thou­
sands of workers were lost to the armed forces
and to war industries and replacements for
them had to be trained. Utility systems were
able to carry on with fewer employees partly
by cutting to the bone all service functions not
essential to actual operations. Sales depart­
ments were wiped out and planning staffs re­
assigned. Customers’ meters were read every
other month instead of monthly, saving labor
time in reading meters and preparing bills.
Hours were lengthened for most employees and
all maintenance work that could be was
postponed.
The companies were aided in increasing out­
put with less labor by the higher load factor
and by the normal ability of utilities to expand

output over short periods without significant
increases in employment. Much of the increased
output went to large industrial plants, which
require less labor per kilowatt-hour to supply
than a large number of household users taking
the same total amount of power.

205,000 on the pay rolls at the end of the war
in August 1945. Many thousands of those hired
in this period were veterans returning to their
jobs. During the rest of 1946 and through 1947
employment continued to rise. In December
1947 it stood at 269,000, and in June 1948
private utility employees numbered 279,000.

The Early Postwar Period

The end of the war and the quick curtailment
of military production brought a sharp drop
in electric power consumption in the latter part
of 1945, and output continued at levels con­
siderably below the wartime peak during the
first half of 1946. In the latter part of 1946,
under the impetus of extremely favorable busi­
ness conditions and high incomes, the trend of
output began a swift climb which soon carried
it above the wartime peaks. In 1947 total
utility production amounted to 256 billion kilo­
watt-hours, compared to 222 billion in 1945.
During the first half of 1948 output was run­
ning at a rate about 11 percent above 1947.
During 1947 and 1948 demands for electricity
were closely crowding generating capacity in
many areas. Actual shortages of power occur­
red in some localities and appeared likely in
others if the requirements of consumers con­
tinued to grow.
It rapidly became apparent that the long-run
upward growth of utility power loads had re­
sumed from where it left off at the peak of war
needs, instead of dropping and then picking up
again, from prewar levels. To handle the pros­
pective power needs a program of facilities
expansion—including generating, transmis­
sion, and distribution equipment—was quickly
begun by private and governmental utility
systems. Although they were unable to add as
much in 1947 as they had planned because
it was difficult to obtain equipment, over 2
million kilowatts of generating equipment were
installed.
Even before output began its postwar up­
surge the electric utility companies had begun
to rebuild their staffs to a size more in line
with their level of operations. By July 1946
employment had risen to 247,000 from the




Future Demands for Electric Power

As the review of the growth and develop­
ment of electric utilities shows, the use of elec­
tricity has become a basic part of our economic
and household activities. Consequently the
long-run trend of consumption is closely related
to the levels of business and industrial activity,
to changes in consumers’ incomes, and to popu­
lation growth. These are some of the major
factors that will determine how much power
will be required by industry at any given stage
of technical development and how much elec­
tricity individuals will be able to buy.
The other part of the story of the demand
for electric power is the introduction of new
uses for electricity and the wider adoption of
existing uses. This might occur, for example,
through the development of new industrial
equipment powered by electricity or of a new
process using electric current. Also, when new
industries arise they frequently add substan­
tially to the demands for power. We are all
familiar with the important place that electri­
cal appliances occupy in American homes. But
most households are far from using all the
electrical products that have been developed
already; and new types are sure to come.
The users of electricity can be divided into
a number of groups, each of which requires
electricity for certain special purposes. The
nature of the future demands for electricity
and an idea of the total demand can be best
obtained by considering each of these groups
separately, and by examining the factors that
are going to determine its electric power re­
quirements. The number of customers in each
major group of consumers is shown in table 2,
together with the total amount of power bought
by them in 1947.

21

T able 2 .—Number of customers and amount of
electric power purchased, by type of usef 1947
Customers
(as of Dec. 31)
Type of use

Number

Power purchased.
1947

Amount
Percent (in bil­ Percent
of
of lions of
total kilowatt- total
hours)

All types of uses. . . 38,431,950 100.0 217.6
Residential and
rural ...................... 33,144,095 86.2 49.7
Industrial and
commercial—
Small users1. . . 4,960,895 12.9 38.4
191,363
.5 113.5
Large users1. . .
Street and highway
.1 2.4
lighting .............
28,976
Street and inter138 (*) 4.5
urban railways. .
31 (3)
2.6
Railroads .................
106,452
.3 6.5
Miscellaneous2 . . . .

100.0
22.8
17.6
52.2
1.1
2.1
1.2
3.0

1The dividing point between small and large users is on a basis
of 50 kilowatts of demand. (Demand means maximum capacity of
an individual consumer to use current at any moment of time.)
includes certain governmental agencies such as airfields and
army camps, and sales from one utility system to another.
3Less than 0.05 percent.
Source: Edison Electric Institute, Statistical Bulletin No. 15,
1948, New York, N. Y.

Industrial Demands

For many years industrial plants have ac­
counted for over half of the power purchased
from utilities. Electric power is basic to modern
mass production methods and electricity has
become essential in industrial operations.
Industrial plants use electric power in many
different ways. The use that was first intro­
duced of course was lighting, and consumption
of current for lighting is still an important
part of the total purchases of many industrial
plants. The introduction of the electric motor
and its widespread adoption in manufacturing
operations soon made the use of electricity to
drive motors the main requirement of indus­
trial plants for current. In most plants today
the use of electricity for this purpose is still
the major part of the consumption. However,
in some industries electricity is used principally
in chemical and metallurgical processes. Other
22




uses of electricity besides these three major
ones include the operation of welding equip­
ment, control devices, air-conditioning equip­
ment, heating equipment used in certain
processes, and elevators.
Many industrial plants do not buy electric
power from utility systems but instead gen­
erate their own supply. This is especially true
in several of the industries which make the
greatest use of electricity and where electricity
is a vital part of the process. In some plants
electricity can be generated as a byproduct of
the main operation. A good example is a steel
mill, where steam is produced by heat obtained
from other parts of the process. Therefore in
evaluating the future demands of industries
upon the utility systems, allowance must be
made for the electric power that will be pro­
duced in the generating plants owned and
operated by the individual manufacturing
plants. In recent years industrial plants have
tended to purchase an increasing percentage of
their electricity requirements from the utility
systems.
The major industrial users of electric power
in 1946 were the chemicals, iron and steel, nonferrous metals, and paper industry groups.
However, of these all except the nonferrous
group generated a very considerable propor­
tion of their total power requirements. Even
in terms of purchased power however, the
chemicals, iron and steel, and nonferrous
metals groups were the major consumers in
that year. Other important users were the
food products, textiles, petroleum, machinery,
automobiles, and rubber industry groups. Coal
mining and metal mining were also heavy users
of electric current. In all of the industry groups
except iron and steel, chemicals, and nonferrous metals, most of the power consumed
was used to run electric motors.
The future requirements for electric energy
in factories depend largely upon the rates of
activity in the major consuming industries and
upon the wider introduction of labor saving
machinery and improved processes. Among the
newer industrial uses of electricity which
promise increasing utilization of electricity are
welding equipment, various types of electric

furnaces, infrared heating, induction heating,
and annealing. Other growing uses include
X-ray equipment, inspecting and testing equip­
ment, and devices which by electrostatic pre­
cipitation remove impurities from the air.
Another use of electricity in industrial opera­
tions has been for air-conditioning equipment,
especially in certain industries where controlled
temperature and humidity are important to
the process. This is true, for instance, in many
textile plants and in the metalworking plants
which do precision work. Much progress has
also been made in improving factory lighting
standards. New equipment developed in recent
years has made much factory lighting obsolete.
These are some of the growing uses from which
greater electrical loads may be built up.
An important source of increased power re­
quirements could be the use of electrically
powered equipment in new industries or proc­
esses which may develop. Outstanding ex­
amples are the possible future large scale
establishment of synthetic gasoline plants, and
the potentially extensive use of electrically op­
erated ore beneficiating equipment to eliminate
impurities from low grade ores. Both of these
processes would require very large quantities
of electric current if used to any considerable
extent.
Besides the influence on demands of the new
and expanded uses of electricity in industrial
processes we must also consider the future
levels of operations in the industries them­
selves. Since 1940 activity in manufacturing
and mining industries has been at very high
levels, first because of the defense boom, later
on because of the great demands of war pro­
duction, and recently because of the general
postwar prosperity. Sales of electrical energy
to large industrial and commercial users in­
creased from about 60 billion kilowatt-hours
in 1940 to 113 billion in 1947. The 1947 total
almost equaled the energy sold to industrial
users in the peak war year 1944. Indications
are that in 1948 industrial consumption will
surpass the 1944 total. Planned increases in
expenditures for certain military items, in­
cluding aircraft, will undoubtedly help to
8166S3—49—5




sustain industrial production at high rates of
activity in the next few years.
Looking at the prospects for the principal
industrial consumers of electric current, the
chemicals, iron and steel, nonferrous metals,
and paper industries all appear to have favor­
able short-run and long-term outlooks. Iron and
steel capacity is being expanded, chemicals are
in record peacetime demand, and there is a
widespread shortage of paper products. The
production of aluminum, which is one of the
main users of electric energy, declined after
the end of the war but has picked up again
sharply, and indications are that in future
years aluminum production may approach or
exceed the wartime output. This is especially
likely to happen if large scale aircraft produc­
tion programs are put into effect.
Any prolonged business depression would
of course have a dampening effect on industrial
activity, but over the long run it appears likely
that there will be a gradual but sustained in­
crease in the activity in most industrial fields
using electric power in large quantities. Tem­
porary set-backs may well occur, however, in
some industries in which the great postwar
demands for production were at least partly
the result of curtailed output during the war
years.
Taking into account both the new uses for
electricity in industrial processes and the
favorable long-term economic outlook for the
major industrial consumers, a sustained longrun increase in industrial consumption of elec­
tricity may be looked for. A good share of the
increase is likely to come through new uses.
In industries where electricity is used mainly
for lighting and to run electric motors, in­
creases will be dependent mainly upon the ac­
tivity in the industries. The emerging of new
industries and new types of production holds
great hope for expanded electrical consumption.
Analysis of the future industrial needs for
electricity by the market development depart­
ment of Westinghouse Electric Corporation
has resulted in an estimate that almost 200
billion kilowatt-hours will be consumed by
large industrial and commercial users by 1957.
Even if the trend of industrial use does not rise

23

this sharply, it is clear that, given a continu­
ation of the long-run increases in industrial ac­
tivity, there will be substantial long-run
increases in consumption of current by the
Nation’s factories.
Commercial Demands

The commercial market for electricity in­
cludes retail stores of all kinds; service estab­
lishments such as laundries, dry cleaning, and
beauty parlors; amusement enterprises such as
theaters or night clubs; and office buildings
and other public buildings. As table 2 shows,
in 1947 small commercial users (including
some small industrial plants) accounted for
about one-sixth of all the sales of electricity to
final consumers. While sales of electrical
energy to these consumers have been increasing
continually since 1934, the greatest gain in
consumption occurred between 1946 and 1947.
By far the principal use of electricity by
commercial establishments is for various types
of lighting. In addition to the standard lighting
fixtures used to illuminate retail stores or
offices, there is display lighting used in store
windows, advertising signs, and theater mar­
quees and for similar purposes. Electricity also
finds other important uses in certain types of
service establishments. For example, laundry
equipment is powered by electric motors, elec­
tric cooking equipment is becoming increas­
ingly utilized in restaurants, beauty parlors use
drying machines, and in office buildings elec­
tric motors power the elevators. One of the
most rapidly increasing uses of electricity in
commercial establishments is the operation of
air-conditioning and refrigeration equipment.
Air conditioning is being used in more and
more stores and offices as well as in theaters,
and refrigeration equipment is important in
restaurants and many retail and wholesale food
establishments.
The outlook for increasing consumption of
electric energy in the commercial field is very
promising. Many of the new developments in
lighting have not yet been applied in a large
proportion of the commercial establishments.
Installation of fluorescent lighting, with its
greater efficiency in use of current, tends to

24




hold down the consumption of electricity for
lighting, but it is believed that this trend will
be more than offset by the general acceptance
of higher standards of lighting.
In the coming years air conditioning may be­
come almost universal in stores and offices
except in areas where temperatures and
humidity conditions make it unnecessary. An
example of the effects of air conditioning upon
electricity requirements is the situation in
Washington, D. C., where extensive use of this
equipment in stores and offices has changed
the peak period of electrical consumption from
the wintertime to the summertime.
The Westinghouse forecast of sales to the
small commercial and industrial users is not
as optimistic as the one for heavy industry.
Westinghouse analysts believe that kilowatthour consumption of this group in 1957 will
be about 58 billion kilowatt-hours as compared
to less than 40 billion in 1947. Since lighting
costs are usually a small part of the cost of
operation of stores and service establishments,
it is reasonable to expect that when competi­
tion gets keener they will expand their use of
electricity for such purposes as signs and more
effective lighting. Thus a gradual but per­
sistent rise in the consumption of electricity in
commercial establishments can be looked for­
ward to over the next 10 to 20 years.
Household and Farm Demands

Although the total quantity of electric cur­
rent consumed by households and farms is less
than the total industrial usage, they have at
least as much influence as the industrial plants
on the employment in the electric utility sys­
tem. In total dollar value of sales of electricity,
the household and farm consumers are the
most important class of customer. Their pur­
chases of current in 1947 amounted to
$1,490,000,000—over 30 percent more than the
sales to industrial firms.
Household and farm customers contributed
such a large share of utility revenues because
the average price they pay per kilowatt-hour
is considerably higher than the rates paid by
large industrial users. This difference in rates
is caused mainly by the greater costs of serving

the individual homes and farms; but it also
reflects partly the better bargaining position
of the large firms, which can make their own
power if they want to. Comparing the 33 mil­
lion homes and farms served, with the less than
200,000 large industrial and commercial users,
gives some idea of why it costs more to sell a
kilowatt-hour of electricity to the residential
and rural customers. A good share of the
greater cost of this service is labor cost—in
installing and maintaining the distribution
lines and in billing and collecting from the
millions of individual users.
The number of new customers that will be
added is an important factor in determining
the future demands of residential and rural
users for power. One source of new customers
will be future population growth. The U. S.
Bureau of the Census expects population to
increase, but not as rapidly as in past years.
According to a recent Census estimate the
population in 1965 will be 169 million compared
with less than 147 million in 1948.1 This in­
crease means a substantial gain in the number
of families that will be consuming electricity.
Over 90 percent of all the nonfarm homes in
existence are already served by electricity.
Even if most of the remaining homes are wired
in future years only a limited number of new
customers would be added from this source.
The large numbers of new dwelling units
(houses and apartments) that will be con­
structed to take care of housing needs will pro­
vide most of the new residential users of elec­
tricity. The building of more than 900,000 units
will have been started in 1948, and the next 10
years should see a continued large volume of
housing construction if inflated prices or pos­
sible business slumps do not interfere. Bring­
ing electricity to existing houses and to newly
built dwellings should add considerably more
than 5 million customers over the next 10 years.
Rapid progress is being made by both the
rural cooperatives and private utility systems
in electrifying the Nation’s farms. It is likely
that well over a million rural customers will be
added in the next decade.
The trend of total demands of households
and farms for electricity will be determined
1Source: Forecasts of the Population of the United States, 194575, U. S. Bureau of the Census.




mainly, however, by changes in their average
consumption. For many years there have been
almost continuous yearly increases in the aver­
age number of kilowatt-hours used by homes
and farms. In 1928 households were using an
average of less than 500 kilowatt-hours in a
year, while by 1947 they were consuming
almost 1,400 kilowatt-hours in a year. This
great gain in consumption was due primarily
to the widespread introduction of many types
of electrical appliances. In the early days of the
electric light and power industry almost all of
the domestic consumption of current was for
lighting, but the general acceptance of appli­
ances has changed the picture considerably.
Lighting is still a very important factor, but
over half of the typical household’s use of
current now goes to run various types of
appliances.
Despite the rapid strides made in electrify­
ing household operations there are still many
possibilities for growth in the use of electrical
appliances. Part of this growth should come
through the introduction of new types of equip­
ment, and the wider use of already established
household aids will also stimulate a greater
consumption of current. Surveys have shown
that while almost every home has a radio and
an electric iron large numbers of families still
do not have such common appliances as vacuum
cleaners and electric refrigerators. (Some of
these families of course have gas refrigerators.)
For some other less widely used electric
appliances there are even greater sales possi­
bilities. Some of these, like electric cooking
ranges and electric water heaters, must com­
pete directly with units burning gas or other
fuels. Other appliances, in service in some
homes but with good chances of expanded use,
include automatic washing machines, clothes,
driers, ironers, electric roasters, germicidal
lamps, home freezers, dishwashers, garbage
disposal units, ventilating fans, and electric
blankets. The wider use of air-conditioning
equipment in homes would also add consider­
ably to household demands for electric power.
Television is another new development increas­
ing electric consumption. The number of sets
now in use is relatively small, but big gains
are predicted for the next several years.
25

Expansion in the use of electric water
heaters and ranges could contribute heavily to
an increase in total domestic use of electricity,
because of their large consumption of current.
A water heater in an average home requires
about 3,500 kilowatt-hours for a year’s opera­
tion, more than twice as much as the present
average for total consumption per household.
Electric ranges use over a thousand kilowatthours in a year. Sales of electric ranges have
been growing rapidly in recent years. Future
sales will depend partly on how many will be
installed as replacements for gas ranges. The
main competition on farms will come from
stoves burning liquefied petroleum gas.
Certain types of household equipment that
we usually do not think of in connection with
electricity are relatively big users of current.
Oil burners and coal stokers both require about
250 kilowatts per year, which is almost as
much as the average annual consumption for
home lighting.
A development that could revolutionize the
household market for electricity would be the
widespread adoption of electrical equipment
for heating homes. One method of doing this is
by using large sizes of ordinary space heaters
(those which produce heat by sending a cur­
rent through resistance coils). However, if
electricity does become a common way of heat­
ing homes it may be through the introduction
of the electrically operated heat pump, a device
that is still in an experimental stage. Heat pumps
also cool the house in summer. In the winter
they draw heat out of the ground, the air, or
stored water, such as in a well. In summer
the operation is reversed, and the pump works
like an ordinary electric refrigerator to cool
the house. A complete system of heating and
cooling, using the heat pump, would require
about 10,000 kilowatt-hours per year for an
average sized house. As yet, electric home
heating methods have been used only to a
limited extent, and only in areas where the
climate is not severe. At present, electric heat­
ing costs are usually higher than those of other
methods. This is the main obstacle to the large
scale adoption of electric heating in homes.
The use of electricity on farms is just getting
into full swing. Except for western farms, where
large quantities of power are used for irrigation
26




pumping, electricity was at first mainly used on
farms for lighting and for operating small
water pumps. In the last 10 years the advan­
tages of eleptrically operated equipment for
many farm activities have become apparent.
The rural cooperatives sponsored by the Rural
Electrification Administration have done much
to encourage the use of electricity by farmers.
Typical uses of electricity on the farm are for
milking machines, cooling equipment, and
heaters for brooders.
All the indications are for a continued
sharp rise in the average amounts of current
used by homes and farms. This will especially
hold true if incomes remain high, enabling the
purchase of additional appliances. Market an­
alysts of the Westinghouse Electric Corpora­
tion look for average yearly residential con­
sumption to increase to 2,400 kilowatt-hours
and farm consumption to 4,000 kilowatt-hours
by 1957. According to their estimates this
would mean a total home and farm consump­
tion of over 100 billion kilowatt-hours by 1957
as compared to the 50 billion used in 1947.
Whether these estimates are high or low, a
substantial increase in sales of electricity to
these users is very probable, and unless present
trends are radically changed their consumption
should reach at least 80 billion kilowatt-hours
a year by the end of the next decade.
Demands of Other Users

New improved equipment and higher stand­
ards of lighting should result in increased
demands for current for street lighting. This
use accounted for 1.1 percent of the total kilo­
watt-hours sold in 1947. Street and interurban
railways, whose consumption of current had
been declining for many years, stepped up their
demands during the war. No significant in­
crease is expected in this category however,
and there may be a renewed decline if busses
continue to replace street cars in transit
operations.
Prospective Levels of C ap acity
and Output

Even a conservative appraisal of the future
demands of the various classes of electricity
users points to substantial increases during

the next 10 years in the total electric power
that must be generated. Surveys of future
power requirements on the utility systems,
made by different groups, support this con­
clusion. The staff of the Federal Power Com­
mission (in July 1947) estimated that total
electric power requirements in 1952 will be
326 billion kilowatt-hours, compared with the
256 billion kilowatt-hours generated in 1947.
This estimate, which was based on an assumed
increase of 1 percent a year in the Nation’s
labor force, would mean an increase in power
produced of almost 30 percent over that period.
The Market Development Department of the
Westinghouse Electric Corporation has, as a
result of its study of trends in power consump­
tion, projected an annual total of well over 400
billion kilowatt-hours to be generated by 1957.
This study indicated that total utility capacity
should be raised to 95 million kilowatts by 1957
to meet the expected demands. An increase of
this magnitude would mean almost a doubling
of capacity within 10 years. Previously, utili­
ties have more than doubled their capacity
within 10-year periods, but never when the
quantities involved were so great.
This estimate may turn out to have been too
optimistic, but if present trends continue the
total utility generation of current very likely
will reach at least a level of between 360 and
400 billion kilowatt-hours by 10 years from
now.
The utility systems, already pressed by the
strong demands for power, are well aware of
the possible growth in the requirements upon
them. Two surveys of projected facilities ex­
pansions show the tremendous volume of addi­
tions to capacity already planned by the utility
systems.
In June 1948, class I utility systems (those
which produce more than 50 million kilowatthours a year) reported to the Federal Power
Commission that they had added 1,529,811
kilowatts of capacity during the first half of
the year and had scheduled additions amount­
ing to more than 15 million kilowatts to be
installed between July 1948 and the end of
1951. Since these systems had 49.4 million kilo­
watts of capacity in December 1947, this would
be a total increase of almost 35 percent for the
period 1948-51. Assuming that the smaller sys­




tems increase their capacity at the same rate,
total utility capacity would amount to over 70
million kilowatts by the end of 1951.
A survey of utility expansion plans released
in October 1948 by the Edison Electric Insti­
tute showed that systems intend to add over
26 million kilowatts of generating capacity in
the period from the beginning of 1948 to the
end of 1953. This would bring total capacity
to over 78 million kilowatts by 1953.
Since both of these surveys represent the
definite plans of utility systems, they provide
a reliable indication of the minimum increase
in capacity that can be expected over the next
10 years. Even allowing for a substantial de­
crease in the rate of utility construction after
1953, it appears likely that total capacity will
at least fall within the range of 80 to 85 million
kilowatts by the end of the coming decade, or
53 to 63 percent more than on January 1,1948.
Effects of Technological Changes on
Labor Requirements

Throughout most of its history the growth
of the electrical utility field has been accom­
panied by marked increases in efficiency as
measured by output per worker. For example,
during its early years the private electric light
and power industry increased its output much
faster than its employment. The only period in
which output per man-hour did not rise was
during the twenties, when utility capacity was
being greatly expanded. As chart 3 shows, out­
put per man-hour climbed rapidly in the 1930’s
until by 1940 it was more than double the 1930
ratio. The feat of the private utilities in boost­
ing their generation of power by over 60 per­
cent during the war, while absorbing a
20-percent drop in employment, is reflected by
the sharp rise in the Bureau of Labor Statistics
index of output per man-hour to a high point
91 percent above the 1939 base. When the utili­
ties began to rebuild their staffs after the end
of the war, output per man-hour declined in
1946, but it rose again somewhat during 1947.
The extent to which the past increases in effi­
ciency of production will continue into the
coming years will be as important as the pros­
pective capacity and production levels in de­

27

termining the future employment needs of
utilities.
There are several factors behind the indus­
try’s achievement of continually raising its
generation and distribution of power without
comparable increases in labor requirements.
The most important has been the introduction
of improved and larger equipment. The in­
dustry has always striven to make its produc­
tion and distribution operations as automatic
as possible. Also, after a system is well estab­
lished in its operations, it can add facilities and
step up its output without proportionate in­
creases in its employment.
These and similar developments will con­
tinue to have a major share in determining how
many new workers will be needed for the
prospective utility expansion. Most of the new
generating plants will be larger than the aver­
age ones now in use, and the larger power
plants require far fewer employees per unit of
output. The new plants will have the latest
features and modern lay-out which tend to
reduce employment needed in the plant to a
minimum, such as centralized control of opera­
tions. New equipment installed for transmis­
sion and distribution of power is generally
more trouble-free and flexible than the older
types, requiring less maintenance work and
line work.
Since much of the increased output will go
to present customers rather than to new ones,
in many areas it will be mainly necessary to
revamp and raise the power-carrying ability of
the transmission lines and distribution systems,
rather than to construct completely new lines.
There will not be a proportionate increase in
meter reading, billing, and other activities
which are related to the number of customers.
As a result of these and similar conditions, the
utility systems should again be able to expand
output with a relatively smaller increase in
employment.
Development of Atomic Energy

There has been considerable discussion and
speculation about the technological and eco­
nomic effects of the development of atomic
energy upon the electric power industry. The
prospective use of atomic energy for power
generation will have a far reaching influence on
28




the design and location of power plants and
on the utilization of fuel by the electric utili­
ties. It is likely, however, to have relatively
little effect on the number and kinds of jobs
in the industry. As the process of making elec­
tricity from atomic energy is now visualized,
heat obtained from an atomic pile would be
used to make steam which would drive the
turbines. Thus the principal difference in op­
erating method from an ordinary steam power
plant would be in the source of heat for the
boilers. The main effect of the use of the ura­
nium or other fissionable material would be its
substitution for coal or oil. From the produc­
tion of the steam on through the rest of the
operations, the process would be the same as
that now carried on by utility systems.
A power plant using atomic fuel would
however require many protective features to
guard the workers and the equipment against
the effects of radiation. When atomic energy
generating plants come into general use they
may have considerable influence on location
of power plants. Because the quantity of atomic
fuel needed to run a power plant would be
considerably less bulky than the amount of
coal required, it should be possible to set up
generating plants at some locations where
water power is not available and where it is
costly to transport coal. A pound of atomic
fuel such as uranium will equal the energy out­
put of thousands of pounds of coal.
If the present system of control, over the
development of atomic energy is continued, it
is likely that atomic-fueled generating plants
would be operated either by the Federal Gov­
ernment or by government licensed organiza­
tions and that the power produced would be
sold to utility systems for transmission and
distribution.
Estimates vary as to how soon generating
plants powered by atomic energy will be in
regular commercial use. The Atomic Energy
Commission in its Fourth Semiannual Report,
issued in July 1948, indicated that it does not
look forward to large scale operation of atomic
power plants before 20 years. Experimental
power plants sponsored by the Atomic Energy
Commission will be in operation within a few
years, but many years of research and experi­
mentation will be required to make feasible

atomic power production in connection with
regular utility operations.
Future Trend of Employment

If the utility systems expand their capacity
and output as much as expected, a large num­
ber of additional workers will be required.
However, as pointed out in the discussion of
technological trends, the increase in employ­
ment will be relatively less than the gain in
output. All these factors considered, it seems
reasonable to conclude that by 10 years from

now (by 1958) total utility employment will
range between 375,000 and 390,000. This would
mean an increase of 45 to 60 thousand—or 14 to
18 percent—over the 330,000 workers em­
ployed in June 1948. Most of this increase can
be expected in the privately owned systems.
The estimated total increase gives but a
general picture of the trend. There will be
variations in the amount of increase among the
different occupational groups. In considering
the career possibilities in the electric light and
power field it is necessary therefore to examine
the opportunities in the individual occupations.

Major Electric Light and Power Occupations

—

Employment Outlook, Earnings, Duties, Training, Qualifications
Electrical Engineers

For anyone considering a career in the elec­
tric light and power field, electrical engineering
training offers one of the best means of en­
trance and advancement. Although not the most
numerous workers, electrical engineers are by
far the most important. Because of the highly
technical nature of utility operations and be­
cause of the heavy reliance on equipment, elec­
trical engineers hold a bigger percentage of
the jobs in electric utilities than in any other
industry. Not only do engineers carry on the
technical operations, but they occupy a good
share of the administrative and planning posi­
tions. About 16,000 electrical engineers were
employed by electric utility systems in 1948,
but not all were in jobs that would be con­
sidered as straight engineering jobs.
Duties

The electrical engineers actually functioning
in engineering jobs in utility systems have a
wide variety of jobs. Some do work that is
closely related to day-to-day operations, such




as direct supervision or checking the actual
operation of the power plants, or making tests
on the transmission and distribution systems.
A large number of the engineers, however, are
concerned with the growth and development of
the systems. This includes planning for addi­
tions to the generating and distribution facili­
ties, supervising construction, and directing
installation of new equipment.
Examples of typical engineering jobs will
best illustrate the role of the engineer in plan­
ning and carrying out changes in a utility
system. Some engineers are assigned to study
the size and nature of the future demands
upon a utility company for power. The re­
sults of their work often lead to recommenda­
tions for construction of new plants, substa­
tions, and transmission lines. Or their studies
indicate changes that should be made in the
company’s distribution system, such as raising
the capacity of a power line serving a growing
neighborhood.
Whenever changes are made in the generat­
ing and distribution facilities of a utility sys­
tem, there are decisions and problems which
call for engineering knowledge. For this reason
?9

utilities employ engineers who specialize in
planning and directing the installation of
generating, transmission, and distribution
equipment. For example, if a company decides
that it must build a substation, engineers will
be called upon to choose a suitable location with
regard to connections with the rest of the sys­
tem, to decide what types of equipment should
be put into the station and what its capacity
should be, and to plan an efficient lay-out for
the station. Engineers employed by utilities
seldom design individual units of equipment:
equipment of standard manufacture is usually
installed. However considerable engineering
knowledge is required to select, from among
the various products available, the most effi­
cient equipment for the particular project.
Engineers must keep themselves accurately in­
formed on trends in design and performance
of the equipment on which they specialize.
Many engineers are employed by utility
systems for testing work. This involves testing
and checking new equipment before it is put
into service, and equipment which has been
repaired or overhauled before it is returned
to operation.
Engineers are needed not only for major ex­
pansion of the systems; even minor changes
in the lay-out of a distribution line to give
better service to a neighborhood, require elec­
trical engineers to prepare the plans.
In addition to the engineering jobs in opera­
ting, planning, and testing, many of the key
positions in the administrative and commercial
activities are filled by men with electrical
engineering training. Supervision and adminis­
tration of most departments other than ac­
counting, financial, and legal is commonly
handled by electrical engineers. Many engi­
neers are employed in sales activities. Lighting
engineers, for example, show customers how
they can more effectively light their stores or
factories and advise them on the installation
of lighting equipment. Industrial application'
engineers try to get industrial firms to buy
power from the electric company rather than
to generate their own supply. Other engineers
contribute to the determining of company
policies such as the rate engineers, who make
combined engineering-economic studies to guide

30



the company in setting its rates to the different
classes of customers.
Training and Qualifications

Virtually all new electrical engineers hired
by utility companies must have completed at
least a 4-year college course in electrical engi­
neering. In the past it was possible for men
without college degrees to become engineers by
gaining practical experience and taking some
courses, and some of the engineers working
for utilities qualified in this way. In recent
years, however, systems have increasingly
adopted the practice of taking on only graduate
engineers. Some of the positions in research
and design require graduate study in addition
to the completion of the basic 4-year engineer­
ing course.
During the first 2 years of engineering
training in most colleges, the curriculum con­
sists mainly of basic studies such as mathe­
matics and physics and nontechnical courses
such as English composition. In the last 2 years
electrical engineering students concentrate on
engineering subjects, including such courses as
electrical theory, alternating current circuits,
and electronics.
Employment Outlook

During the next 10 years there will be a fairly
large number of openings for electrical engi­
neering graduates in electric utility systems.
The systems, including both private and public,
can be expected to hire between 1,500 and
2,000 additional electrical engineers. This esti­
mate is based upon the projected expansion
program of the utilities. However most systems
will be able to enlarge their facilities and boost
their output without proportionately increas­
ing their engineering staffs. Besides the addi­
tional engineering jobs that will be created,
about 3,000 electrical engineers must be hired
to replace those who will die or retire in this
period, and a large number of other vacancies
will occur because of engineers transferring
to other industries.
The additional engineers taken on by utilities
will be needed mainly for the large scale ex­
pansion of facilities—both in planning and
constructing the original installations and in

keeping them efficient and up to date after they
are in operation. Utilities are also likely to in­
tensify their sales efforts to ensure that the
additional capacity will be fully utilized, and
this will mean greater utilization of engineers
in sales positions. Along with this there should
be increased emphasis on engineering services
to customers.
The number of additional jobs for engineers
will vary considerably among different sections
of the country and different utility systems.
In general the greatest opportunities will occur
in areas where the greatest expansion of facili­
ties is planned. These include many rapidly
growing western areas and also sections in
other parts of the country where rural demands
have been sharply increased or where there
has been recent growth in the areas surround­
ing large cities. On the other hand some com­
panies which plan to expand their operations,
but on a smaller scale, believe that they can
increase their capacity and their total employ­
ment without adding proportionately to their
engineering staffs.
Privately owned utilities will have a large
part of the job openings for electrical engi­
neers, because they account for the bulk of
utility employment. There will also be many
opportunities for electrical engineers in con­
nection with the utility operations of Federal
agencies such as the Department of the In­
terior, in municipal systems and in the rural
cooperatives sponsored by the Rural Electrifi­
cation Administration.
A large part of the electrical engineers in
utilities are in the age groups where increasing
numbers drop out because of death or retire­
ment. In the next 10 years it is expected that
about 3,000 electrical engineers will leave
utility employment for these reasons.2 Replace­
ment of these men will be a major part of the
electric utility hiring of engineers in the com­
ing decade. The number of vacancies resulting
from men transferring to other industries can­
not be estimated because it depends upon such
factors as the opportunities that will exist in
the other fields which use electrical engineers.
Although there will be many openings for
electrical engineers in the next 10 years, there
Estimated on the basis of preliminary tables of Working Life
Expectancy prepared by the Occupational Outlook Service.




may also be many applicants for these jobs.
The Nation’s engineering schools are turning
out electrical engineers at the highest rate in
history. It is estimated on the basis of current
enrollments that almost 13,000 electrical engi­
neers will be graduated in 1950 alone.3
Earnings

Earnings of engineers increase with length
of experience and also vary with the kind of
work they do, the level of education they have
attained, and the industry and locality in which
they are employed. According to a survey
made by the Bureau in 1946, median monthly
salaries of electrical engineers in all industries
were $237 for those with 1 year of experience,
increasing to $315 for those with 5 years, $366
for 9 to 11 years, and $502 for 25 to 29 years.
Those with a master’s degree in engineering
earned on the average about $45 more a month
than the much greater number with a bach­
elor’s degree; the small number with doctor’s
degrees earned considerably more than the
bachelors. The higher average earnings of the
men with more experience in the profession are
due largely to the fact that many of them have
moved up to administrative jobs.
In the electric utility industry, 10 percent
of the engineers earned less than $245 a month
(these were mostly the younger engineers) and
the top 10 percent—mostly those with many
years of experience who had attained adminis­
trative positions—earned more than $630 a
month. The median for all electrical engineers
in utilities was about $370 a month—somewhat
less than the averages paid in electrical
machinery manufacturing and the communica­
tions industries, the two other major fields for
electrical engineers.
Other Technical Workers

In addition to the electrical engineers, other
technical specialists are employed by utility
companies. Mechanical engineers are particu­
larly important in the operation and design
of steam generating plants. The major operat­
3Persons interested in electrical engineering as a career may wish
to consider also the opportunities for the profession in other indus­
tries. A more complete discussion of the outlook for electrical
engineers will be presented in a forthcoming bulletin covering the
entire engineering profession.

31

ing problem in steam generating plants is
getting a high output of electricity per pound
of fuel. This requires mechanical engineering
knowledge, and consequently the superintend­
ent of a large generating plant is apt to be a
mechanical engineer. Civil engineers are
needed to plan and supervise construction
work. Large numbers of draftsmen are also
employed in the engineering departments of
utility systems to prepare engineering draw­
ings and blueprints.
In view of the expected large construction
program, there should be relatively good job
opportunities in utility systems for these tech­
nical workers during the next 10 years.

engineers. A substantial number of power plant
workers are employed outside the utility sys­
tems, mainly in industrial plants which gener­
ate their own power. In all except the largest
of these plants, the various operating jobs
may be combined. Switchboard operators es­
pecially would be found much less frequently
in the industrial plants than in utility systems.
Duties

The duties of the various power plant opera­
tors are usually distinct. In some small plants,
turbine and switchboard operators may be
combined into a single job. In others there may
be no auxiliary equipment operators as such,
this work being divided between the boiler
operators and turbine operators. All the power
plant operators’ jobs are similar in that they
are responsible for watching, checking, and
controlling the operation of the various kinds
of equipment. They must see that the equip­
ment is functioning efficiently and detect in­
stantly any trouble which may arise.
Boiler Operators

Draftsmen preparing engineering drawings and blueprints in the
engineering department of a utility system.

Jobs in the Power Plant

The most numerous and important of the
generating plant workers are the four classes
of power plant operators—the boiler operators,
turbine operators, auxiliary equipment opera­
tors, and switchboard operators. They are the
core of the power plant staff. Supervision of the
operations is handled by the chief engineer in
charge of the plant and by the watch engineers
under him. At the other end of the scale are
the laborers and helpers who assist the power
plant operators.
In April 1948, utility systems (including
both private and publicly owned) employed
about 5,700 boiler operators, 4,000 turbine
operators, 5,000 auxiliary equipment operators,
5,200 switchboard operators, and 2,200 watch



32

The job of the boiler operator, who is some­
times called a fireman, is to regulate the fuel,
air, and water supply used in the boilers and
to maintain proper steam pressure to turn the
turbines. This he does by means of control
valves, meters, and other instruments mounted
on panel boards. One man may operate one or
more boilers. Boilers vary greatly in size and
capacity, some producing as much as 500,000
or more pounds of steam an hour at 925 de­
grees Fahrenheit. In modern power plants the
coal is usually fed to the boilers mechanically
by coal stokers. In many plants pulverized coal,
oil, or gas is piped into the boiler. The boiler
operators usually supervise the ash disposal if
coal is the fuel. Other workers assist them,
such as coal and ash handlers, cleaners, and
helpers. Boiler operators of course are em­
ployed only in steam generating plants, none
being needed in hydro or Diesel plants.
Turbine Operators

Turbine operators, in some plants called
running engineers, are responsible for the con­
trol and operation of the turbines and genera­

tors. In small plants they frequently may also
operate auxiliary equipment or a switchboard.
Modern steam turbines and generators operate
at extremely high speeds, pressures, and tem­
peratures. In a large modern plant, steam en­
ters the turbine at a pressure of up to 1,2Q0
pounds per square inch and at temperatures
as high as 900°F. The steam hits the turbine
blades at velocities up to 1,200 miles an hour,
a force which makes a hurricane tame in com­
parison. Hence close attention must be given
the instruments which show the operations of
the turbogenerator unit.
The turbine operator watches pressure gages
and thermometers to see that the proper pres­
sures and temperatures are maintained, and
records the readings of these instruments. He
also checks other instruments which indicate
the oil pressure at bearings, the speed of the
turbines, and the circulation and amount of
cooling water in the condensers which change
the steam back into water. The turbine opera­
tors are responsible for starting and shutting
down the turbines and generators as directed
by the switchboard operators in the control
room. Other workers, such as helpers, cleaners,
and oilers, assist the turbine operator in his
duties, and auxiliary equipment operators are
sometimes under his supervision.
Auxiliary Equipment Operators

Auxiliary equipment operators regulate and
tend such equipment as pumps, fans and
blowers, condensers, evaporators, water condi­
tioners, compressors, and coal pulverizers.
They check and record readings on the instru­
ments which show how their equipment is
functioning. Since auxiliary equipment may go
out of order frequently, the operators must be
able to detect trouble quickly, make accurate
judgments, and sometimes make repairs. The
various types of auxiliary equipment are
essential to the power plant process, since they
are directly connected with the operation of the
boilers and the turbines. Coal pulverizers turn
coal into coal dust, fans and blowers blow it
into the boilers, and compressors mix air into
the coal dust to make it burn better. After the
steam has completed its journey through the
turbines it enters the condensers, where it
becomes water. The operation of the condensor




in condensing the steam sets up a vacuum
which provides some of the force to drive the
turbine. Pumps are necessary to return the
water to the boiler. As power plants become
larger the auxiliary equipment increases in
complexity and size, and more of it is necessary
to operate the plant.
In some of the smaller plants there are no
separate auxiliary equipment operators, the
turbine operators handling this work along
with their other duties. In the larger plants
however auxiliary equipment operators often
outnumber the turbine operators. The auxiliary
equipment operated by these workers is used
only in steam generating plants, and no opera­
tors are needed by hydro plants.
Switchboard Operators

Switchboard operators control the flow of
electric current in the generating station from
the generators to the outgoing power lines.
They usually work in a control room which is
separated from the generating room and which
has switchboards and instrument panels. The
switches control the movement of the current
through the generating station circuits and on
to the transmission lines carrying the current
away from the station to the users.
The instruments show such things as the
total power requirements on the station at any
instant, the power load on each line leaving the
station, the amount of current being produced
by each generator, and the voltage of the cur­
rent. The operator uses the switches to dis­
tribute the power demands among the genera­
tors in the station, to combine the generated
current in the bus system, and to regulate the
passage of the current onto the various power
lines in accordance with the demands of the
users served by each line. When changing
power requirements on the station make it
necessary, he orders generators started up or
stopped and at the proper time connects them
to the power circuits in the station or discon­
nects them. For most of these operations he
receives telephoned orders from the load dis­
patchers in the system headquarters, who con­
trol the flow of current throughout the system.
The switchboard operator also tests fre­
quently, by checking the instruments before
him, to see that the current is moving through
33

General view of the switchboard of a large generating plant

showing the switchboard operators checking the instruments mounted

on the control panel.

and out of the station as it should and that the
proper voltage and frequency are being
maintained.
Among ‘his other duties, the switchboard
operator keeps a log of all switching operations
and of load conditions on the generators, lines,
and transformer banks. He obtains this in­
formation by making regular meter readings.
In plants with high generating capacity the
equipment is generally more varied and com­
plex than in smaller plants. Disturbances in
the system may have far reaching effects,
causing interruptions in service over a large
area. As a result, switchboard operators switch
and test more frequently, and a greater degree
of skill is required of the operators than in
smaller plants.
In hydrogenerating plants the duties of the
switchboard operator may be combined with
other plant operations—usually generator op­
erating. In such cases, he may be called either



34

a hydrostation operator or a generator-switchboard operator.
W atch Engineers

The principal supervisory workers in a
power plant are the watch engineers. They
supervise the employees responsible for the
operation and maintenance of boilers, turbines,
generators, auxiliary equipment, switchboards,
transformers, and other machinery and equip­
ment. Directly over the watch engineers may
be a plant superintendent, who is in general
charge of the entire plant. In small plants the
watch engineer may be the top supervisory
employee.
Other Workers

Also found in power plants are coal and ash
handlers, who may include crane and convey­
ing equipment operators as well as manual
workers; oilers, who oil the machinery and

equipment; cleaners; helpers; and learners and
apprentices. Custodial, clerical, maintenance,
and other workers may in some cases be con­
sidered a part of a plant’s personnel; for
example, guards, watchmen, janitors, cashiers
and paymasters, and mechanics.
Working Conditions

A generating station is typically well lighted
and ventilated and its interior presents a very
orderly appearance. Even the steam plants are
quite clean, since the coal is handled by me­
chanical equipment separated from the princi­
pal work areas. In the boiler room the workers
watch the control instruments mounted on
large panel boards. Large pipes feeding pulver­
ized coal to the boilers or carrying steam to the
turbines may pass through the boiler room. The
boiler room is often rather warm.
The turbine room (where the current is
generated) is a long rectangular chamber with
rows of turbines in operation, the number and
size of the turbogenerator units varying with
the size of the power station. The turbine room
is airy and clean but there is usually consider­
able noise from the whirring turbines. The
main feature of the power plant’s control room
is the battery of elaborate switchboards with
their numerous switches, clock-like recording
instruments, and other controlling and testing
apparatus.
Switchboard operators in the control room
often sit at the panel boards, whereas boiler
and turbine room operators are almost con­
stantly on their feet. Not much strenuous
activity is required of the power plant opera­
tors and rarely any heavy lifting. Since gener­
ating stations usually operate 24 hours a day,
power plant employees frequently rotate shifts.
Training, Qualifications, and Advancement

Anyone who wants to get a power plant job
will find that most utilities expect new workers
to begin at the bottom of the ladder. The
methods of training men for power plant jobs
vary somewhat among systems, but usually
the new employee puts some time in as a
laborer or cleaner and then gradually advances
to more responsible jobs as he learns more and




more about operating the equipment and as
openings occur. Formal apprenticeships are
rare. How rapidly one advances from job to
job depends to a considerable extent on the
availability of openings, and if these are in­
frequent it may take much longer to obtain a
particular job than it would take just to
learn it.
Typically, after starting as a laborer or
helper it takes from 3 to 5 years to become a
boiler operator, turbine operator, or switch­
board operator. From 1 to 3 years of experience
is required to be a fully qualified auxiliary
equipment operator. A person learning to be a
boiler operator might spend 3 to 6 months as
a laborer, then be promoted first to the job
of oiler, next to helper or assistant boiler op­
erator, and finally, when there is an opening, to
a boiler operating position.
In many plants turbine operators are selected
from among the auxiliary equipment operators.
The line of advancement in other companies is
from laborer to helper to assistant operator
to operator. Where a system has a number of
generating plants of different size, operators
get experience first in the smaller stations and
then are promoted to the larger stations to
fill vacancies.
Switchboard operators work as helpers, then
as junior operators, and finally as senior
operators. They also may be advanced from
smaller stations to the larger ones, because
operating conditions in the larger stations are
usually much more complex. Some utilities take
men from among the substation operators and
transfer them to switchboard operating jobs.
The duties of both classes of operators have
much in common. In the larger plants switch­
board operators can advance to the job of chief
switchboard operator.
Watch engineers are selected from the ex­
perienced power plant operators. At least 5 to
10 years of experience as a first class operator
is usually required to qualify for a watch
engineer’s job.
Employment Outlook

Increased numbers of power plant workers
will be needed to staff the large expected addi­
tions to generating capacity. The rise in era-

35

ployment is likely, however, to be considerably
less than the growth in plant facilities would
indicate. The new plants installed will have
many operating features not possessed by
many of the older plants, and these will re­
duce greatly the number of employees per unit
of capacity and output. The number of workers
in a plant is to a considerable extent related
to the number of producing units—boilers and
turbogenerators. Usually an operator can
handle a large turbogenerator unit as well as
he can a smaller one which turns out much
less current. Modern large generating plants
typically have large units of equipment, much
bigger than plants built 20 or 30 years ago, and
they have been designed to use as few workers
as possible.
Thus, the new generating capacity that will
be constructed in the next 10 years will not
require a proportionate increase in power
plant employment. Frequently when a company
installs new generating equipment it replaces
some obsolete older equipment. The efficiency
of the larger new facilities enables the com­
pany to produce much more current with about
the same number of generating employees as
the old power plant had. This kind of substitu­
tion will be common during the coming years
and will tend to reduce the number of addi­
tional generating plant employees needed.
When the new facilities are a net addition to a
company’s capacity and no existing plants are
retired from service, the company will of
course have to hire some additional employees
to staff the new plant.
Many of the opportunities in power plant
jobs will come about because of the death, re­
tirement, or promotion of the experienced
workers. A large proportion of electric utility
employees have been with their companies for
long periods of time, and many are nearing the
ages when drop-outs due to death or retirement
are more numerous.

Average straight-time hourly earnings in
privately owned utilities in March and April
1948, as shown in table 1, were $1.60 for class
A switchboard operators, $1.49 for turbine
operators, $1.48 for boiler operators, $1.37 for
class B switchboard operators, and $1.35 for
auxiliary equipment operators. In all of these
occupations the highest average hourly earn­
ings were in the Pacific Coast States, where
boiler operators made $1.60; turbine opera­
tors, $1.68; and Class A switchboard operators,
$1.76. The lowest earnings were in the South­
east region except for turbine operators, whose
average earnings were lowest in the Border
States, and boiler operators, whose average
earnings were lowest in the Middle West. Aver­
age hourly earnings for watch engineers were
$1.81. Their hourly earnings varied from a
low of $1.57 in the Southeast to $1.96 in the
Border States and $1.93 in the Great Lakes
region.
Transmission and Distribution Jobs

Almost a fourth of the workers employed by
electric light and power companies are in trans­
mission and distribution jobs. The transmission
system of an electric utility consists chiefly of
high voltage transmission lines which are sup­
ported by steel towers or poles, except in cities
where they are usually in underground cables.
The transmission system begins with the stepup substations, which are either in the gener­
ating plants or located adjacent to them and
which raise the voltage of the generated current
to a voltage suitable for transmission. Standard
voltages for transmission lines are 33,000;
66,000; 110,000; 132,000; and 220,000. These
contrast with the ordinary voltage of 110 or 120
used in homes. The transmission system trans­
ports the electricity from the step-up substa­
tion of the generating station to the step-down
substations, which form the beginning of the
distribution system. The distribution system is
composed of step-down substations, where the
Earnings
voltage is lowered to 11,500 or less; primary
Of the five principal power plant occupations, distribution lines, which may be on poles or in
watch engineers receive the highest earnings, underground cables; line transformers, which
followed by class A switchboard operators, and reduce the voltage so that the current can be
the lowest are received by auxiliary equipment used in industrial and commercial establish­
operators and class B switchboard operators. ments and in homes; and secondary distribu­
36




tion lines and service lines which carry the
power to the door of the ultimate consumer.
The principal workers of the transmission
and distribution systems consist of the men
who control the flow of electricity—load dis­
patchers and substation operators; and the men
who construct and maintain power lines—line­
men, cable splicers, troublemen, patrolmen,
groundmen, truck drivers, helpers, and their
foremen. Linemen constitute the largest single
occupation in the industry.
Load Dispatchers

Load dispatchers are the key operating
workers of the transmission and distribution
departments, and in fact of the whole utility
system. There were about 1,500 of these
workers in early 1948.
D uties. The load dispatcher’s room is the nerve
center for the entire utility system. From this
location the dispatcher controls the plant equip­
ment used to generate electricity and directs
its flow throughout the system. He gives tele­
phone orders to the generating station switch­
board operators and to the substation opera­
tors, directing how the power is to be routed
and when additional boilers and generators
are to be started or shut down in line with the
total needs of the system for power. The load
dispatcher must anticipate demands for elec­
tric power before they occur so that the system
Pilot board

in the

load dispatcher's room. Load dispatchers

direct the flow of power throughout the utility system.




will be prepared to meet them. Power demands
on utility systems are not constant: they
change from hour to hour. A sudden afternoon
rainstorm can cause a million lights to be
switched on in a matter of minutes, while
boilers often must be heated for as long as
2 hours before they are ready to produce suffi­
cient steam for generating. The load dispatcher
must therefore keep in touch with weather re­
ports from hour to hour. He must also be able
to direct the handling of any emergency situa­
tion such as a transformer or transmission line
failure, and to route current around the
affected area. Load dispatchers are also in
charge of the interconnections with other sys­
tems and direct the transfers of current be­
tween systems as the need arises.
The load dispatcher’s source of information:
centers in the pilot board, which dominates the
dispatcher’s room. It is virtually a complete
map of the utility system that enables the dis­
patcher to determine at a glance the conditions
that exist at any point. Meters show the output
of individual power stations, the total amount
of power being produced, and the amount of
current flowing through the important trans­
mission lines. Red and green lights may show
the positions of switches which control gener­
ating equipment and transmission and distribu­
tion circuits, as well as high voltage connec­
tions with substations and sometimes large
customers. The board may also have several re­
cording instruments which make a graphic
record of operations for future analysis and
study.
T raining and Qualifications. Load dispatchers
are selected from among the experienced
switchboard operators and operators of the
larger substations. Usually, at least 7 to 10
years’ experience as a senior switchboard or
substation operator is required for promotion
to load dispatcher. To fill an opening for this
job an applicant must show that he has knowl­
edge of the entire utility system, and some
companies also have candidates take aptitude
tests.
Outlook. The prospective large scale expansion
of utility capacity will create a need for some
additional load dispatchers. Most openings for
37

load dispatcher jobs will result however from
the death, retirement or promotion of those
now holding these positions. Only the largest
systems employ more than a few load dis­
patchers. Most systems will not need to increase
the number of load dispatcher positions pro­
portionately to handle an increase in gen­
erating capacity.
E arnings. Wage rates for load dispatchers are
higher than those paid to any other operating
or maintenance occupation in the industry. In
March and April 1948 the average hourly
earnings for load dispatchers in private utilities
was $1.94. The highest average hourly pay,
$2.16, was in the New England region and in
the Pacific region, while the lowest, $1.68, was
in the Southwest region. Wage rates for load
dispatchers usually depend in part on the com­
plexity of the utility system for which the
dispatcher works.
Substation Operators

Substation operators, of whom there were
about 8,000 employed in early 1948, rank third
Substation operators check and control the flow of power out of
the substations.

38




in number behind linemen and groundmen
among the operating and maintenance workers.
D uties. The substation operator is generally in
charge of a substation and is responsible for
its efficient operation. He supervises the ac­
tivities of the other substation employees on
his shift, and assigns tasks and directs their
work. However in small substations he may be
the only employee.
A step-up substation is usually located
adjacent to the power plant to raise the volt­
age of the electricity so that it can be sent out
over long distances. The step-up substation is
chiefly a bank of transformers and oil switches.
Step-down substations are at the other end of
the transmission lines, in the areas in which the
customers are located. There the power is re­
duced to a lower voltage by another bank of
transformers before being sent out through the
distribution network. In the distribution sub­
station the current is divided and sent out over
the distribution lines to the individual cus­
tomers. The substation operator directs the
flow of current out of the station by means of a
switchboard.
The switchboard in the substation is similar
in purpose to the switchyard on a railroad. In­
coming energy from the power plant is
switched to the outgoing lines on, which it is
needed. The flow of electricity from the in­
coming lines to the outgoing lines is controlled
by the circuit breakers. The substation operator
connects or breaks the flow of current by push­
ing or pulling the switches which control the
circuit breakers. Ammeter, volt meters, and
other types of instruments located on the
switchboard, register the amount of electric
power flowing through each line. In some sub­
stations where alternating current is changed
to direct current to meet the needs of special
users the operator controls the synchronous
converters which perform the change.
While the substation operator is responsible
for properly switching the high and low voltage
lines, switching orders are issued to him by the
load dispatcher. In addition to his switching
duties, the substation operator must check the
operation of all equipment and see that it is
maintained in good working order.

Training and Qualifications. Substation opera­
tors usually begin as assistant or junior opera­
tors. It usually takes a total of 3 or 4 years of
such on-the-job learning to become an operator
in a large substation. Often workers begin in
small substations and are promoted to larger
stations as they become more experienced.
Outlook. The employment outlook for substa­
tion operators is affected by the growing use
of unattended stations in areas where con­
sumption of current is light. These substations
are being installed by many utility systems in
residential and rural neighborhoods. Another
development is the underground low voltage
distribution network, with transformers placed
along the cables at frequent intervals to cut
down the voltage before final consumption.
Adoption of this method of distributing current
eliminates many substations and reduces the
needs for substation operators in cities where
it is installed. Most utility systems are, how­
ever, continuing to use attended substations
with operators in areas where electric require­
ments are heavy and complex. The big expan­
sion of facilities that the Nation’s utilities are
undertaking will involve the construction and
staffing of many new substations. The capacity
of existing stations can often be increased con­
siderably however, without a comparable in­
crease in operating personnel. Because of this
factor and the trend toward more automatic
operations, there will not be a large number of
new substation operator jobs. There will be
more openings to replace workers who die,
retire, or are promoted—probably altogether
not more than 200 a year—than openings
resulting from system expansion.
Earnings. Hourly wage rates for substation
operators in privately owned systems in March
and April 1948 averaged $1.53. The average
hourly rate varied from a high of $1.69 in the
Pacific Coast States to a low of $1.19 in the
Southeastern States.
Linemen and Troublemen

Most people have never seen a turbine oper­
ator or a substation operator at his job, but the
power lineman at work high on a pole is a
familiar figure. With the electric utilities serv­




ing more than 40 million customers, power lines
reach out to almost every factory, store, and
dwelling and are being extended to most of the
farms. To construct and maintain the millions
of miles of power lines more than 23 thousand
journeymen linemen and troublemen were em­
ployed in April 1948, making this the largest
electric utility occupation. Most of them work
for privately owned utility companies, but
fairly large numbers are employed by munici­
pally owned systems and by rural cooperatives.
Federal power agencies and local power dis­
tricts employed smaller numbers. One of the
main sources of jobs for linemen is with con­
struction contractors who install lines for
private systems or government agencies.
D uties. The lineman’s job is strenuous, involv­

ing a great deal of hard climbing on poles and
on steel transmission line towers. On new con­
struction, linemen customarily erect the steel
towers for transmission lines, while digging
holes and raising wooden poles is largely done
by the groundmen under the supervision of the
linemen. The linemen belt or screw cross arms
to the poles or towers and nail or clamp insula­
tors in place on the cross arms. With the as­
sistance of the groundmen they raise the wires
and cables and install them on the poles or
towers by attaching them to the insulators.
In addition, they attach a wide variety of equip­
ment to the poles and towers, such as lightning
arrestors, transformers, and switches.
The installation of new lines and equipment
is important; however, much of the lineman’s
work consists of repairs or routine mainte­
nance. When wires or cables break or a pole is
blown down, it means a hurry call for a line
crew. Linemen splice broken wires and cables,
replace broken insulators and bad wires, and
replace or repair equipment such as trans­
formers, switches, and lightning arrestors.
Some power companies have several classes
of linemen. Those in one crew may work only
on new construction. Other crews do repair
work on live wires. In some cases linemen
specialize on high voltage lines using special
“hot line” tools.
Troublemen are journeymen linemen with
at least several years of experience who are
assigned to special crews which handle emer­

39

gency calls for service. They move from one
special job to another, as ordered by a central
service office which receives reports of line
trouble. Often the troublemen receive their
orders and communicate with the office by radio.
Troublemen must have a thorough knowledge
of the company’s transmission and distribution
systems. They first locate and report the source
of trouble and then attempt to restore service
by making the necessary repairs. A troubleman may have to restore service in the case of
line transformer failure, or he may install new
fuses or cut down hanging live wires. He must
be familiar with all the circuits and switching
points so that he can safely disconnect live
circuits in cases of line break-downs. Trouble­
men must also know the circuits and locations
of switches so that when line troubles occur
they can maintain emergency service until
repairs can be made.
Training and Qualifications. It usually takes
about 4 years of on-the-job training to qualify
as a journeyman lineman. In some companies
this training is given through a formal ap­
prenticeship, but in most systems there is no
definite training program. Under a formal
apprenticeship there is a written agreement,
usually worked out with the union, which
covers the content of the training and the
length of time the apprentice works in each
stage of his training. A principal feature of
the apprenticeship as compared with informal
training is that the person entering the ap­
prenticeship is definitely assured of becoming a
journeyman lineman if he completes his train­
ing satisfactorily and his promotion from one
training step to another occurs at specified
intervals. Also part of the apprenticeship,
when it follows the standards of the Bureau
of Apprenticeship, U. S. Department of Labor,
is the provision of at least 144 hours of class­
room instruction a year. The courses taken in­
clude study of electrical codes, blueprint read­
ing, elementary electrical theory, and methods
of transmitting electrical currents.
The apprentice usually begins his training as
a groundman, assisting the linemen by helping
to set poles in place and by passing tools and
equipment up to them. After the period of
training as a groundman is completed, which

40



usually does not take more than 6 months, the
apprentice begins to do simple line work on
“dead lines” or lines of low voltage. While on
this work he is under the immediate direction
of a journeyman lineman or the line foreman.
After about a year at this stage he is assigned
more difficult work but is still under close
supervision. During the last part of his ap­
prenticeship the trainee does about the same
kind of work as the journeymen but has more
supervision and works on the more routine
jobs. During the apprenticeship the new
worker learns such things as setting poles in
place; attaching cross arms, insulators, circuit
breakers, and transformers; and stringing and
splicing (joining) the wires or cables.
The training under the informal method is
very similar to the apprenticeship and usually
takes about the same length of time. The
worker also begins as a groundman and pro­
gresses through increasingly difficult stages of
line work before becoming a journeyman. In
both types of training the new workers some­
times start by working on the lines without first
getting experience as groundmen.
Some companies have, since the end of the
war, set up special training programs for line­
men under which the prospective linemen are
given a short but intensive training course in
actual line practice and in theory. Companies
which have conducted these courses have felt
they reduce the total training time required by
as much as 2 years.
It is obvious that candidates for line work
should be strong and be in good physical condi­
tion to carry on the strenuous work of climbing
poles and lifting lines and equipment. They
must also have steady nerves and good balance,
to work at the tops of the poles and to avoid
the hazards of live wires and falls.
Outlook. During the next 5 years utility
systems are expected to hire as many as 2,000
new workers to train for linemen or trouble­
men jobs. The large expansion in generating
capacity will make necessary a considerable
volume of work on transmission and distribu­
tion lines. For example, hydroelectric plants
planned for relatively isolated areas will need
transmission lines to connect with the distant
distribution areas to which they will supply

The lineman's beltful of tools goes right with him to the top of the pole. Much of the lineman's work is routine repairs or changes
in the lines. Storms or accidents may also bring a hurry call for linemen to make emergency repairs.




41

power. The extension of rural electrification
will mean many thousands of miles of new lines
in certain farm regions. Lines must be run
through the new subdivisions springing up
around most large cities. In general when the
output of a system is stepped up considerably,
even if many new customers are not served,
the increased loads on the transmission and
distribution systems require substantial altera­
tions in the power lines and other distribution
facilities. Not only are linemen needed to work
on new lines when they are constructed, but the
new lines will add to the volume of maintenance
work in future years.
In many of the largest cities a good share of
the power lines run underground in cables and
are not serviced by linemen. Utility systems
can be expected to add gradually to the under­
ground facilities to take care of situations
where underground cables would be more prac­
tical than overhead wires. Underground in­
stallations are very costly, however, and for
this reason are not likely to replace overhead
lines on any large scale except in the heavily
built up sections of cities.
Utility companies have already taken on
many trainees for their line crews since the
end of the war. Only a part of this increase was
to provide for the extension of power lines.
Most of the new workers were hired as the
companies began to build up their line crews
to the prewar size. Training of linemen had
been largely suspended during the war.
Over the longer run, after the near future
programs for systems expansion have been
completed, most of the new openings will be to
replace workers who die or who retire from
line work. Because of the strenuous nature of
line work many of the linemen become unable
to continue in the occupation after they pass
the ages of 50 or 55. Although some linemen
continue at the job in their sixties, most have
been transferred to less physically demanding
jobs by the time they are that old. Because a
good share of the experienced linemen are over
40 years old, within 10 years the drop-outs
from the occupations should become fairly
numerous. This means that those who get into
line work now are assured of steady employ­
ment for many years, and that there will be

42




some openings each year for trainees to re­
place men leaving the occupation.
E arnings and W orking Conditions. Linemen
and troublemen are among the highest paid of
the nonsalaried operating employees of electric
companies. The average straight-time hourly
earnings in private utilities in March-April
1948 was $1.61 for linemen and $1.63 for
troublemen. Earnings of linemen and troublemen were highest in the Pacific Coast States,
where both were receiving an average of $1.87
ah hour, while the lowest average hourly earn­
ings were $1.49 in the Southwest for trouble­
men and $1.47 in the Southeast for linemen.
Working conditions are often hazardous or
unpleasant because of the extensive amount of
climbing involved, outdoor work in all weather,
and the danger of electrocution and shock.
Working on a “hot” line at the top of an icecovered pole in a blinding blizzard is not the
easiest way to live to a ripe old age. Linemen
may occasionally work long and irregular
hours during storms, floods, and other emer­
gencies to repair damage and restore service.
They may work under a blazing summer sun
or in subzero weather. Troublemen regularly
work on night shifts as well as day and must
be ready to answer emergency calls when off
duty.
Cable Splicers

In some of the largest cities a good share of
the transmission and distribution systems are
carried in underground cables rather than on
poles. The extent of underground wiring
varies among cities. In some, mainly the high
voltage transmission lines and the distribution
lines in the downtown sections are under­
ground, but in New York City over 77 percent
of the distribution system is underground.
Cable splicers are the skilled workers who in­
stall and repair the underground lines, per­
forming the same service as the linemen do on
the overhead lines. Because cable splicers are
needed mainly in a few large cities this is a
small occupation, with less than 1,500 employed
in April 1948.
D uties. Underground wires are carried in leadsheathed cables which run in conduits beneath

the streets. When cables are installed the cable
splicers supervise the laying of the conduit
and the pulling of the cable through it. The
splicers then join the cables at connecting
points in the transmission and distribution
systems. At each connection or break in the
cable they wrap insulation around the wiring
and seal the cable with lead joints much the
same as a plumber closes a pipe joint. Most of
the actual physical work in the placing of new
cables is done by the helpers and laborers who
belong to the cable laying crew.
Cable splicers spend most of their time in
repairing and maintaining the cables and
changing the lay-out of the cable systems.

It is extremely important that each splice be
properly and carefully made. Failure of a
poorly spliced cable can lead to serious break­
downs in the transmission or distribution
system. The cable splicers usually work in
small rooms under the streets, which are
reached through manholes. Considerable stoop­
ing and working in cramped positions is
involved.
Training and A dvancem ent. Cable splicers get
their training on the job and it usually takes
about 4 years to become fully qualified.
Workers usually begin as helpers and then
are promoted to be assistant or junior splicers.
In these jobs they are gradually assigned more
difficult tasks as their knowledge of the work
increases.
Outlook. Only a few additional cable splicers
will be hired by utility systems in the next 10
years. The use of underground cables for
transmission and distribution will be extended
gradually to take care of situations where
density of power load or difficulties in using
overhead wires justify their installation. In
view of the high cost of underground construc­
tion, no large scale replacement of overhead
lines by underground cables is expected. There
will be a few openings for new workers to re­
place those who leave the occupation because
of death or retirement, but the opportunities
created in this way will not be more than a few
dozen a year since the occupation is so small.
Other Transmission and Distribution Jobs
Groundmen

C ab le splicers do most of their work in vaults beneath city
streets.

Splicers should know the arrangement of the
wiring systems, where the lines are connected,
and where they lead to and come from. Each
line is numbered throughout its length at every
connecting point and switch box and at the con­
trol board of the generating plant or substation.
The splicer must make sure that the wires do
not get mixed up and that the continuity of
each line is maintained from the substation
to the customer’s premises.



One of the larger occupations in the electric
utility field is that of groundman. There were
about 12,000 groundmen employed in April
1948 plus several thousand who held jobs as
combination truck driver and groundman.
Groundmen are primarily helpers who assist
the linemen in constructing, repairing, and
maintaining the transmission and distribution
lines. They dig pole holes, raise the poles, and
at the same time guide them into the holes.
After the pole is up, the dirt is tamped around
it and guy cables are attached to keep it in
place. One of the principal duties of ground­
men is to pass tools and equipment from the
ground to the linemen working on poles or
43

towers by tying the tools or equipment to a
line and hoisting them up.
In addition to their regular duties as groundmen the truck-driver-groundmen drive trucks
and operate winches with which the trucks are
usually equipped.
Many of the groundmen who show aptitude
for line work advance to linemen’s jobs, but
a large part of them remain among the ground
workers.
Patrolmen

Patrolmen, sometimes called line walkers or
line inspectors, make up one of the smaller oc­
cupations in the power and light industry. In
April 1948 there were considerably less than
a thousand patrolmen employed by utility sys­
tems. These workers are mainly used in rural
and isloated areas and usually work very much
on their own, with less direct supervision than
linemen. They patrol transmission and distribu­
tion lines and prepare written reports which
show the condition of power lines, substa­
tions, transformers, and related equipment.
Any encroachment on the right-of-way, such as
spreading trees or other conditions which
might impair electric service, are also watched
for and reported. They check the condition of
poles, guys, and anchors and climb the poles
or towers to check cross arms, insulators, con­
ductors, and other equipment. Usually patrol­
men travel on foot or by automobile, but they
may use other means of transportation such as
horseback or boat. Even helicopters may be
called into service, as they were in a recent ex­
periment in patrolling the transmission lines
between Hoover Dam and Los Angeles. Patrol­
men are not ordinarily required to make re­
pairs. Patrol jobs are often given to linemen
who are no longer able to climb poles.
Utilities that have many power lines passing
through wooded areas frequently employ tree
trim m ers. These workers are part of forestry
crews whose job it is to cut away tree limbs
that are obstructing or touching the power
lines or that might fall upon them.
Customer Servicing Jobs

Workers in customer servicing jobs include
those who read, install, test, and repair meters
44




Meters

are tested

periodically to

make

sure

that they

are

accurately measuring consumption of electricity.

so that the utility companies can accurately
charge each customer for his consumption of
current. Also included in this group are men
who act as company agents in rural areas and
appliance servicemen working in company op­
erated shops which repair electrical equipment
owned by the customers.
Duties and Training
Metermen

Metermen are the most skilled workers in this
group. About 5,500 were employed by electric
utilities in April 1948. They sometimes install
meters, and frequently they test them, but
their main job is to repair meters, both those
on company owned property such as in power
plants and substations and those on the cus­
tomers’ premises. Some metermen can handle
all types of meters, including the more compli­
cated ones used in the control operations of the
utility system and in industrial plants and in
other places where large quantities of electric
power are used. Others specialize in repairing
the simpler kinds, like those used to record
consumption in homes. About 4 years of on-thejob training is required to become a fully
qualified meterman. New workers usually begin
as testers or as helpers.
Meter Readers

Meter readers are the men who go into
homes, stores, and factories to read the con­

sumption of current registered on the meter.
They record the amount used in a certain
period so that each customer can be billed for
it. While the job is not physically hard in other
respects, the meter reader must walk all day
long and there is usually a great deal of stair
climbing. Meter readers watch for and report
any tampering with the meter or power diver­
sion and other conditions affecting the meters.
Over 6,600 men were employed as meter
readers in April 1948.
District Representatives

The district representative usually serves as
a company agent in outlying districts, in local­
ities where the utility does not have an office
and where the small number of customers does
not justify the use of more specialized workers.
His work includes reading meters, collecting
overdue bills, connecting and disconnecting
meters, and making minor repairs on them. He
also receives complaints about service and re­
ports of line trouble and transmits them to a
central office for handling. In April 1948 there
were about 3,000 district representatives work­
ing for electric utilities.
Other Service Workers

Some companies employ appliance service­
who install, repair, and service electrical
appliances either in a shop belonging to the
company or on the customer’s premises. In
April 1948 the electric utility systems employed
over 3,000 of these servicemen. M eter installers
are specialists who install or remove meters.
Similarly, m eter testers specialize in testing
meters.

m en,

Employment Outlook

No significant increase in the employment
for metermen is expected. The new customers
that will be served by utilities and the expan­
sion of generating and substation facilities
means that many more meters will be in use.
However, the meters installed in recent years
are better constructed and require much less
maintenance than meters produced 10 or 20
years ago. This improvement in meter per­
formance tends to reduce the needs for
metermen.



M eter readers are chosen partly for their ability to get along
with people, since they are the company's main contact with
its customers.

The number of meter readers employed at
any one time depends upon how many meters
are in use. Since the millions of new customers
that utility systems expect to add will place
more meters in service, additional meter
readers will be hired. Similarly, expansion of
service in rural areas may require more district
representatives. However, if the companies
open additional offices in some of their outlying
territories it will cut down their needs for the
district representatives.
Earnings

Class A metermen employed by private utili­
ties in March and April 1948 averaged $1.59
an hour straight time. Appliance servicemen
earned $1.45 an hour; district representatives
made $1.37; class B metermen, $1.36; and
meter readers, $1.18.
In all of these occupations the highest
hourly earnings were in the Pacific Coast
States. In some areas in the West, district
representatives are the most highly paid of the
service workers. Generally, the lowest hourly
earnings were found in the Southeast, the
Border States and the Southwest.
45

Jobs in the Administrative and
Commercial Departments

Various types of clerical workers hold most
of the jobs in the administrative and commer­
cial departments. Large numbers of book­
keepers and clerks are needed for accounting
work in maintaining a company’s financial
records and accounts with its customers. Bill­
ing machine operators and typists prepare bills
sent to the customers, and cashiers receive the
payments. Many stenographers, typists, and
clerks assist in the various administrative sec­
tions. In general, the clerical workers’ duties
are similar to those of clerical workers in other
industries.
Table 1 shows the average earnings for some
of the more important clerical jobs in MarchApril 1948 in private utilities. Men bookkeepers
received the highest pay, $1.64 an hour, and
men accounting clerks were the second best
paid, with an average of $1.36 an hour. In
general, clerical workers earned less than most

46




of the operating and maintenance workers.
Even though the complexity of office opera­
tions is increasing in many respects, the num­
ber of clerical workers employed by electric
utilities is not expected to grow at the same
rate as total capacity and output. A large part
of the clerical work is closely related to the
number of customers. While some increase in
the number of customers will occur, most of
the increased demands for electricity will come
from greater consumption by existing cus­
tomers. However some expansion in the clerical
staffs will be necessary, and electric utilities
will continue to be one of the main employers
of these workers in many communities.
Certain types of professional specialists are
needed for administrative and commercial
work in the electric companies. Although large
numbers are not employed, these jobs are very
important. Accountants, lawyers, advertising
and public relations experts, and personnel and
industrial relations managers are among the
key workers in electric utility companies.

Appendix
Capacity, Production, and Employment of Electric Utility Systems, 1902^47

Year

Total utility
Total utility
production
capacity (as
Private utility
of Dec. 31, in (in billions of
employment
millions of kilowatt-hours)1 (in thousands)2
kilowatts)1

1902.................
1903.................
1904.................
1905.................
1906 ......................
1907 ......................
1908 ......................
1909.................
1910 ......................
1911 ......................
1912 ......................
1913.................
1914.................
1915.................
1916.................
1917.................
1918.................
1919.................
1920.................
1921.................
1922.................
1923.................
1924.................

(»;

(3)
(*)
(3)
(3)
(3)
(3)
(*)
(3)
(3)

(3)
(3)
(3)

(3)

1.2

(3)
(3)

2.5

(3)

2.7

5.2

(»)

(3)
(3)
( 3)
(3)
(3)
(3)

5.9

9.0
12.7
13.5
14.2
15.6
17.7

(3)

(3)

( 3)
( 3)

27

42

(3)

11.6

(3)

(3)

71

(3)

(3)
(3)

(3)
(3)
(3)
(3)

25.4
39.4
37.2
43.6
51.2
54.7

(3)
( 3)
( 3)
(3)

95

(3)

(3)

137
151
172

includes publicly owned and privately owned utilities. Data for
years prior to 1920 are from the U. S. Census of Electric Light and
Power Stations. Data for years 1920 to 1947, inclusive, were taken
from tables published by the Federal Power Commission.




Total utility
Total utility
capacity (as
production
Private utility
of Dec. 31, in (in billions of
employment
millions of kilowatt-hours)1 (in thousands)2
kilowatts)1

Year

1925
1926
1927
1928
1929
1930
1931
1932
1933
1934
1935
1936
1937
1938
1939
1940
1941
1942
1943
1944
1945
1946
1947

21.5
23.4
25.1
27.8
29.8
32.4
33.7
34.4
34.6
34.1
34.4
35.1
35.6
37.5
38.9
39.9
42.4
45.1
48.0
49.2
50.1
50.3
52.2

61.5
69.4
75.4
82.8
92.2
91.1
87.4
79.4
81.7
87.3
95.3
109.3
118.9
113.8
127.6
141.8
164.8
186.0
217.8
228.2
222.5
223.2
255.7

( 3)

193
215
236
274
288
265
227
212
219
223
238
254
245
244
250
255
237
211
203
205
243
262

includes privately owned utilities only. Sources: U. S. Census
of Electric Light and Power Stations for 1902, 1907, 1912, and 1917;
Bureau of Labor Statistics for all other years.
3Data not available.

47

Occupational Outlook Publications of the
Bureau of Labor Statistics

Studies of employment trends and opportu­
nities in the various occupations and profes­
sions are made by the Occupational Outlook
Service of the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Reports are prepared for use in the voca­
tional guidance of veterans, young people in
schools, and others considering the choice of
an occupation. Schools concerned with voca­
tional training and employers and trade-unions
interested in on-the-job training have also
found the reports helpful in planning pro­
grams in line with prospective employment
opportunities.
Two types of reports are issued, in addition
to the Occupational Outlook Handbook:
Occupational outlook bulletins describe the
long-run outlook for employment in each oc­
cupation and give information on earnings,
working conditions, and the training required.
Special reports are issued from time to time
on such subjects as the general employment
outlook, trends in the various States, and
occupational mobility.
The reports are issued as bulletins of the
Bureau of Labor Statistics, and may be pur­
chased from the Superintendent of Documents,
Washington 25, D. C.
Occupational Outlook Handbook

Includes brief reports on each of 288
occupations of interest in vocational guidance,
including professions; skilled trades; clerical,
sales, and service occupations; and the major
types of farming. Each report describes the
employment trends and outlook, the training
qualifications required, earnings, and working
conditions. Introductory sections summarize
48




the major trends in population and employ­
ment, and in the broad industrial and occupa­
tional groups, as background for an under­
standing of the individual occupations.
The Handbook is designed for use in counsel­
ing, in classes or units on occupations, in the
training of counselors, and as a general refer­
ence. It is illustrated with 79 photographs and
47 charts.
Occupational Outlook Handbook—Employment
Information on Major Occupations for
Use in Guidance.
Bulletin 940 (1948). Price $1.75. Illus.
Occupational Outlook Bulletins

Employment Opportunities for Diesel-Engine
Mechanics
Bulletin 813 (1945). 5 cents.
Employment Opportunities in Aviation Occu­
pations, Part I—Postwar Employment
Outlook
Bulletin 837-1 (1945) (Edition sold out;
copies are on file in many libraries)
Employment Opportunities in Aviation Occu­
pations, Part II—Duties, Qualifica­
tions, Earnings, and Working Condi­
tions
Bulletin 837-2 (1946). 25 cents. Illus.
Employment Outlook for Automobile Mechanics
Bulletin 842 (1945). 10 cents.
Employment Opportunities for Welders
Bulletin 844 (1945). 10 cents.
Postwar Outlook for Physicians
Bulletin 863 (1946). 10 cents.

Employment Outlook in Foundry Occupations
Bulletin 880 (1946). 15 cents. Illus.
Employment Outlook for Business-Machine
Servicemen
Bulletin 892 (1947). 15 cents. Illus.
Employment Outlook in Machine-Shop Occupa­
tions
Bulletin 895 (1947). 20 cents. Illus.
Employment Outlook in Printing Occupations
Bulletin 902 (1947). 20 cents. Illus.
Employment Outlook in Hotel Occupations
Bulletin 905 (1947). 10 cents. Illus.
Employment Outlook in the Plastics Products
Industry
Bulletin 929 (1948). 15 cents. Illus.
Employment Outlook in Railroad Occupations
In press.
Special Reports

Occupational Data for Counselors. A Handbook
of Census Information Selected for
Use in Guidance




Bulletin 817 (1945). 15 cents (prepared
jointly with the Occupational Informa­
tion and Guidance Service, U.S. Office of
Education).
Factors Affecting Earnings in Chemistry and
Chemical Engineering
Bulletin 881 (1946). 10 cents.
Economic Status of Ceramic Engineers, 1939
to 1947
Mimeographed. Free; order directly from
Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Occupational Outlook Mailing List

Schools, vocational guidance agencies, and
others who wish to receive brief summaries of
each new Occupational Outlook report may be
placed*on a mailing list kept for this purpose.
Requests should be addressed to the Bureau of
Labor Statistics, U. S. Department of Labor,
Washington 25, D. C., specifying the Occupa­
tional Outlook Mailing List. Please give your
postal zone number.
"fr U . S . G O V ERN M EN T PR IN TIN G O F F IC E : 1 9 4 9 —8 1 6 6 3 3

49




Sources of photographs: Cover and page 32, Commonwealth Edison Co.; pages 6, 12, 34, 38,
43, 44, and 45, Consolidated Edison Co. of New York; pages 12 and 37, Potomac Electric Power
Co.; page 41, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.