June 20, 1975

TO: City Manager
FROM: Superintendent, Light and Power Department

The City of Forest Grove has been involved to some extent in developing power resources since late in the 1800s. Forest Grove's Light and Power Department was among the first of Oregon's municipally owned utilities.

Starting in the early 1880s, power was provided to the community by the Forest Grove Canning Company from excess capacity of its boilers and generators. After the company experienced financial problems in the summer of 1895, the City took action which led to a more permanent and reliable electric service.

On September 4, 1895 the citizens voted to construct an electric and water system, which the City had since continuously operated.

Resources or modes of operation through the years to 1939 included a hydro-electric plant on Scoggins Creek with a power line directly over the hills to Forest Grove which was patrolled on horseback.

By 1917 the City had installed a cordwood fired steam plant with 100 kw capacity near the old Light and Power Buildings on South "B" Street. Later, this plant was modified with sawdust fired boilers. The City purchased Fairbanks Morse diesel generators to serve the electrical needs of the community between 1931 and 1939. The peak load in 1939 was 450 kw and power costs had been reduced to 2.17 cents per kilowatt hour.

In 1939, Forest Grove entered into its first contract with Bonneville Power Administration which provided residential customers with 3/4 ₵ per kwh electricity. Initially, power was wheeled over lines owned by Portland General Electric Company to Weber substation on the south end of Council Street. By 194+6, loads had grown to a point that it became necessary for BPA to provide the town with a direct delivery point.

The Forest Grove Substation was energized at its present site on North Maple Street in December 1946. A second 6000 KVA transformer, doubling the capacity of the substation, was installed in December 1951. In response to growing power requirements, BPA energized a second point of delivery at Thatcher Junction in November 1959, which had a capacity of 20,000 KVA.

Work is progressing at this time at Forest Grove Substation, which will ultimately double the capacity of this substation to approximately 40,000 kw. It is anticipated that this addition will provide substation capacity to serve the system load growth for the next 7 to 10 years.


(EGS: 1950)

These generalized statements of the impact of the relations with Bonneville upon the operating methods of the utilities need to be qualified by at least one major consideration. In each of the six local utilities studied, the circumstances of the relations with Bonneville have their own special features. As with all of the findings summarized in this chapter, it is particularly important to examine the circumstances of each of the six utilities in order to appraise adequately the nature of the relationship between them and Bonneville.

I. History and Development

The Forest Grove electric utility had its beginnings in the 1880s, at about the same time the city was incorporated. The purpose of the early electric system was to supply power to run the pumps of the water system. The first small hydro plant was soon supplemented by a steam plant using wood as a fuel. After a few years of operation of its own plant, the city entered into a contract with a private concern to supply its needs. The citizens of Forest Grove meanwhile began to demand electric lights, and extensions of the services of the private system into a full-fledged utility operation began in the early years of the present century. Street lighting by electricity gradually replaced coal oil lamps. About 1915, electric household appliances became important enough to require the operation of generators during daylight hours on Wednesday to permit housewives to iron Monday's washing. Despite growing demand for electricity, the private plant did not provide adequate service and fell into financial difficulties. Consequently, in 1917 the city undertook once again to operate the electric utility.

During the next seven or eight years the utility system developed into a major part of the city's operations. But it was in 1925, when the...