Electricity for Waterville
Did you know that the Village first received electricity for homes and street lighting in 1917? We found, among a stack of old ordinances and paperwork, a series of actions by the Village Council in the year 1917 to electrify the Village. A special election was held April 25, 1917 to allow the Village to issue bonds to finance “building works for the supplying electricity to the Corporation and inhabitants thereof”. The issue was passed by a vote of 115 for and 14 against. Then a series of ordinances were passed at a June 4, 1917 meeting to publish and sell bonds totaling $13,600 and another to authorize the Clerk C.J. Roach and Mayor J.J. Lloyd to advertise for bids for this project. Ordinance No. 7 dated July 27, 1917 authorized the Village to levy a property tax sufficient to pay interest on the bonds and establish a “sinking fund” to pay the principal when due. Bids were taken to “furnish all apparatus and equipment for building a distribution system to receive purchased electrical energy for lighting of streets and resale to the public” to specifications supplied by the Froelich and Emery Engineering Co. A resolution passed September 17th awarded contracts for materials and labor to Chas. L. Zahm of Toledo and to General Electric of Toledo for transformers, service meters and lamps all totaling $11,933.68. No paper work was found indicating when the village residents began to actually receive electricity but we can assume sometime in 1918.
Power was purchased from 1918 until June 1930 when a municipal generating plant was built and put into service. This generating station was powered by several large diesel engines and was located near the water tower at the western edge (at that time) of the village. When the demand for power increased to capacity more diesel engines and generating units were added. By the 1950s the village residents had to decide whether to build a larger power plant or abandon the municipal plant and again purchase power from Toledo Edison. This controversial issue raged for years with much passion on both sides. The villagers were evenly split on the issue and no decision could be reached. Finally in 1967 Toledo Edison agreed to buy the Waterville Power Company for about 1.3 million dollars. The power plant was shut down and Waterville power switched to a Toledo Edison substation on April 20, 1968. The plant was sold to Toledo Edison in July of 1968 and later the building was given back to the Village.
In 1974 The Waterville Historical Society was interested in using the building as a museum. The Village, via resolution 19-74, dated September 7, 1974, offered a 99 year lease of the building to W.H.S for one dollar per year. W.H.S. then had an architect study the prospect of turning the old generator building into a museum. The architect, recommended by the Ohio Historical Society, determined the building was not suitable for a museum and would be to costly to upgrade and maintain. W.H.S. was grateful for the generous offer from the village but by September 1975 had to turn it down. This regret was expressed in a “Letter to the Editor” dated September 4, 1975, signed by President Opel Witte and Historian Midge Campbell. The old building was eventually demolished.