Farmer City Light & Power Plant
How much is power worth to you, when you don't have it? While many large cities go without power for hours and even days following bad weather, Farmer City continues to function as if nothing was wrong. The credit for this, goes to the local Municipal Light Plant.

     Farmer City has one of the few municipally owned light plants in the state. And although the Farmer City Council made the decision in 1983 to establish a tie-in with Illinois Power Company to provide power to the city, the city has maintained it's own power plant since 1888.

     The power plant is capable of supplying enough power for the   entire city and surrounding areas. Farmer City benefits from this plant in several way. One of which is that the city enjoys almost continued power, 365 days a year. The "down-time" is limited to less than 1 hour. If at anytime the main grid which carries the power to the cities substation is down, the cities power plant goes into action. In most cases, the power plant switches on and continues power to the homes and businesses without anyone even noticing.

FCPowerControl.JPG (8365 bytes) The Main Control room panels
     The Power Plant currently maintains four generators. The largest of which is a 3500 kilowatt, V-16 Dual Fuel Nordberg.
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Main Generator. V-16 Dual Fuel Nordberg 10 Cyl. Fairbanks-Morse 1550 kW &
8 Cyl. Nordberg 1133 kW.
SubStation.jpg (7188 bytes)
Plant Cooling System. Sub-Station
Plant History
One-hundred and nineteen years ago, Thomas Edison invented the incandescent light bulb. Nine years later, a man by the name of Abe Evans, purchased a piece of property and a small generator. He housed the generator in a small barn and ran wires to any house that was interested in his service.

May 6, 1891, he signed a franchise agreement with the city to build a steam operated light plant to furnish power.

OldPlant.jpg (3514 bytes)
On September 21, 1892, the city purchased the power plant from Mr. Evans for $9,000.00. Later that year, the city almost lost the power plant to another interested party that had offered to buy the plant from the city. Several concerned citizens blocked this action.

The electric rate in 1892 was based on the number of  bulbs a person had in their house. The cost was 75 cents per month/ per 16-watt light bulb and 1.25 for a 32-watt light bulb.

The first house wired for electricity was the Sabin home.

In 1907 the plant was operated by two men working 12 hour shifts for a monthly wage of $90.

By 1910 there were approximately six miles of wire in the street circuit to supply 1,500 incandescent lamps.

In 1914, Franklin Grade School was built. It was heated with steam provided by the light plant.

The town whistle, which was located at the light plant, was steam powered. It was blown for the last time by Charles McMurphy as the town welcomed in the new year. This was the beginning of the steam-vs.-diesel controversy.

The argument raged for more than a year with fearful home-owners declaring that if diesel engines were installed the oil would drip from the light bulbs onto their furniture and carpeting.

The first diesel engine was purchased in 1935. Later the second diesel engine was purchased thus ending the era of steam.

Modernization has continued throughout the years. The present building was erected in 1945 and the last vestige of the steam era disappeared when the smokestack was torn down. At the same time a new engine was installed.

In 1951 the OP generator was installed and the cooling tower was installed in 1959.

In 1963 the replacement engine, a OP 10 cyl. 1133 kW Fairbanks-Morse, was installed and then a inline 8 cyl. 1550 kW Nordberg was installed in 1967.

In April of 1970 the sub-station and a new switchboard were installed. Improvements were made to the plant to house the new equipment.

The latest and largest generator was installed in 1973. It is a 3500 kW V-16 Dual-Fuel Nordberg and continues to be the main generator.

The staff has grown from one man in 1891 to a staff of full time employees in 1998; Rick Hardesty is the plant superintendent and the operators are Wally Miller, Bill Isaacs, Terry Amacher. The plant has two linemen, Mark Gardener and Russ Pearl.