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Utility History

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The City of Gillette's Electric Utility was established back at the turn of the century, in April of 1915. The Town Council at that time provided a set of plans and specifications for an "electric lighting system" to be installed in the town for use by the citizens of the town. This 1915 electrical system had the capacity of supplying 40,000 watts of electricity, and it supplied the entire town at a total cost of $7,500.

Today, the City of Gillette citizens use a peak consumption of 70,000,000 watts of electricity with a total budget of $29.4 million (of which $20.6 million is for the purchase of power). The estimated value of the City's electrical system has grown from $7,500 in 1915 to $60,000,000 today.

How Is Electricity Made?

Electricity is made, or generated, at power plants. Experts devised a system that forces atoms to have an unequal amount of protons and electrons, which creates electricity.

Most electricity is created with a turbine generator. Turbine generators are large magnets inside metal rings that are wrapped with wires. A turbine forces the magnet to spin, which creates an electric field between the wires.

To force the turbine to spin, power plants burn coal, oil, gas, or use nuclear power to create steam. The energy in the steam forces the turbine to spin the generator. Some power plants use water or wind to spin the generator. The generator produces the electricity that eventually reaches your home.

Many utilities are working to develop new sources of energy. These sources include methane gas from solid waste and sewage, ethyl alcohol, burning garbage, and steam from heat under the earth's crust. Today, experts are experimenting with ways to produce electricity without using turbine generators, by using fuel cells and sunlight instead.