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The Years of Indecision

  • Leslie Hannah

Abstract

The technology of the supply industry was from the start an international one, and British, American and Continental electrical engineers practised their art with little regard for international frontiers.1 Whether the basically international technology was widely applied, however, depended on the market situation and other environmental constraints operating in individual countries and in individual regions within those countries. It was inevitable, for example, that the United States, particularly in areas with cheap hydroelectric resources, would offer an especially fertile ground for new development because of the rapid rate of growth of its economy and the relatively high wages which made the substitution of electric power for manpower especially profitable. Each country had to adapt the technology to suit its own economic requirements and it would be wrong to expect progress in development to occur at a uniform rate everywhere. Charles Merz, himself no laggard when it came to pioneering new technology, argued strongly against some of the simpliste disparaging comparisons which were sometimes made;

To begin with [he told the Institution of Electrical Engineers], we must once and for all make up our minds that we cannot argue that something is right for this country because it is done in other countries, or that something is wrong in this country because it is wrong in other countries. I have travelled a good deal abroad, in America and other countries, and the more I have travelled the more I am dissatisfied with the average English engineering attitude, which may be said to be: why cannot we do so and so because America does it, or because Germany does it? That seems to me to be a very low level on which to discuss a question. Certainly it was not the standpoint which produced the engineering industry of this country.2

Keywords

Private Enterprise Electricity Supply Power Company Electric Power Supply Supply Industry 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes on the Text

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Copyright information

© The Electricity Council 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • Leslie Hannah
    • 1
  1. 1.Emmanuel CollegeCambridgeUK

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