Batlows Electricity Pioneered by G. C. Brown
26 October 1948 The Tumut and Adelong Times
'There's gold all right Bill, but we need water !' And water they got, even if it meant cutting miles of races.
The work involved meant little when it came to winning that precious metal - gold.
So races were made, the water flowed, the ground was washed and the search went on.
How many of the races justified the work they cost no one can say.
The hope, results, disappointment or good luck associated with these ventures could, no doubt, be the subject for a good novel.
It has been stated 150 males of races were cut around the Batlow hills.
Of these many miles only about nine are in use at present.
One race supplies the Batlow town water and the other with part of the light and power.
How many miners imagined that some day one of these races would be the means of light and power for homes, farms and industry.
Certainly, accepted things in our life to-day were mostly fantastic ideas in those times.
Yes, perhaps the existence of an old miner's race and a pioneering spirit gave the idea of hydroelectric generation to G. C. Brown.
The first part in the electrical development of Batlow started in 1934 when power was first switched on from the hydro plant on Gilmore Creek falls.
From the race to the site at the falls the ground sloped steeply with a maximum slope of 31degrees or a fall of 280 feet in a distance of 608 feet. 608 feet of 15in. inside diameter wooden pipe, constructed by the Batlow Case and Timber Mills from local timber, carried water to a pelton wheel in the powerhouse.
A water pressure of 1251bs per square inch drove the pelton wheel coupled to an alternator of 75 K.V.A. capacity.
The nature of the country meant that all machinery had to be un- loaded at the top of the hill.
This was the closest motor vehicles could get to the powerhouse site.
From here machinery and material were unloaded on slides and lowered down the slope by means of ropes.
Power generated at 2,000 volts was transmitted by high-tension line to Batlow, a distance of approximately 3 miles.
Lines were constructed 3 miles along the Adelong Road, and also east from Batlow past the showground.
The original work was carried out under the supervision of D. J. Byles, B.E. A.M.I.E., and when he left Batlow after completion of work some 100 consumers were connected.
In 1936 another plant was purchased to increase the output and guard against breakdown of existing plant. This unit was on the same lines as previous, the main difference being 1,000 feet of local wood pipeline was put into operation.
This increased the head 370 feet and gave a water pressure of 170lbs per square inch.
The turbine (a turbo-impulse type) was coupled to a 150 K.V.A. alternator.
The following years showed a steady increase in the demand for electrical power and dry summer conditions proved that either a large storage dam at the head of the race or a Diesel standby plant would be required.
In 1938 a Diesel plant was installed in Batlow as an assurance against dry seasons and standby in the event of interruptions to hydro-generation.
The Batlow Packing House Co-operative Ltd. was gradually expanding its demand for electric power, and the demand for foodstuffs for the Forces and home consumption found Batlow playing a big part in supplying of dehydrated and processed fruits and vegetables during the last war.
These events soon led to a stage when even more power was required for this important work and the future requirements of Batlow.
In 1944 arrangements were made for bulk supply from the Southern Electrical Supply.
To take this meant that a high-tension line had to be constructed from Batlow to Gilmore, a distance of 15 miles.
The construction of this was completed in approximately 5 months and power from Southern Electricity Supply switched on in 1945.
About this time the State Government introduced the present Rural Electricity Subsidy Scheme.
This enabled supply authorities to distribute electricity to rural areas which, from the economy point of view, could not otherwise be served.
In 1947 the reticulation of the Gilmore Valley was commenced and at present is about 80 per cent complete.
When completed, approximately 50 more consumers will have the benefit of electricity on the farms and in the home.
With the growth of the district the expansion and use of electricity will no doubt increase each year.
The necessity of electricity in homes, factories and farms is well realised.
The opportunity for more lines to rural areas is also realised and the improvement of some existing areas is really governed by the materials requirements being met.
So great is the demand throughout Australia for electrical line materials that long delays are experienced from ordering to delivery.
The opportunity for hydro-generation in the near vicinity of Batlow is surprising - worthy of investigation and, perhaps, development.
Any such schemes would appear to necessitate being linked on a grid system where, during periods when abundant water flows, full advantage could be taken of this supply and relieve existing coal stations.
Whether, from economy point of view, this would be worthwhile is another story.