June 15, 2005
I've found this chart, drawing on data from David Nye’s Electrifying America and R.B. Duboff’s "Electric Power in American Manufacturing, 1889-1958," useful in explaining how a critical business resource - electricity, in this case - can quickly go from being supplied privately, by individual users, to being supplied as a shared utility.
In 1910, most of the electricity used in the United States was generated by private generators owned and maintained by manufacturers. Each factory had its own powerplant. Just 20 years later, most of those private generators had been shut down, as companies came to embrace the superior economics of the utility model.
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