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The Story of Electricity

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Did you Know?

  • Brownsville's first electric plant used mesquite wood fuel to produce electricity for streetlights. They were turned off at night when the moon was shining.
  • Today, Brownsville Public Utilities Board can generate a combined 253 megawatts of power from its three power plants: Silas Ray Power Plant in West Brownsville, Hidalgo Energy Center in Edinburg, Texas, and Oklaunion Power Plant in Wichita Falls, Texas.

More than 2,000 years ago, the Greeks unknowingly discovered the electron. The Greeks found that rubbing a fur cloth attracted small things to the fur. Thousands of years later, that attraction has come to be known as static electricity.

In 1752, Benjamin Franklin discovered electricity after performing the kite in the thunderstorm experiment. Electricity, however, could not be produced until the 1880s when Thomas Alva Edison built the first-ever generator.

Prior to the 1900s, Brownsville's lighting came from kerosene lamps and cooking was typically done over wood-burning stoves. A Brownsville utility system was established in 1907, after residents voted unanimously to build a local power plant.
The 500-kilowatt-plant used mesquite wood to produce electricity. In order to conserve electricity, the street lamps were turned off whenever the moon was shining.

Today, BPUB has the capacity to produce up to 253 megawatts of electricity through its three power plants. One of the plants, Silas Ray Power Plant, is located in West Brownsville. Electricity is generated at three plants and then delivered to homes through a grid of transmission and distribution electrical lines.

 

What exactly is electricity?
Electricity is found everywhere.

Matter is a word used to describe everything that makes up the world. Matter is found in water, dirt, air, and in anything else. Matter is made up of bricks that are referred to as atoms. These bricks, or atoms, are so small that they cannot be seen even with the most powerful microscope. Atoms are made of three items known as protons, neutrons and electrons. The protons and neutrons make up a center called a nucleus. Around this center or nucleus, the electron can be found circling.
Metals have an abundance of electrons. There are so many electrons in some metals that it is easy to get some of them to move from one place to another. A force such as a powerful magnet, or a battery, can move an electron from one end of a wire to another. For example, when a wire from an electrical appliance is plugged into an electrical outlet, electrons are forced from the power source (the outlet) to flow through the wire, through the appliance, through the ground and back to the source.
This flow or movement of electrons is called electricity.