They are depicted in great detail in a respectful bulletin issued in 1932 by Łódź Electrical Society JSC under the title Łódź Power Plant 1907-1932. Reflecting on the above-mentioned publication: it provides a comprehensive and professional description of the plant and is accompanied by detailed diagrams, pictures and tables. When discussing the emergence of electrical power engineering in Poland, the origins of electrification of the capital city should be mentioned, the more so since the progress that followed in other Polish cities developed in a similar manner. The history of electrical power engineering began on 1 September 1903 when the Electricity Association in Warsaw launched a provisional power plant in Powiśle. The plant started supplying energy to the inhabitants of the city and enabled street lighting.
The first street lamps, referred to as crosiers, appeared in 1906 (today similar lamps can be seen in the Old Town). A tramway power plant at Przyokopowa and Grzybowska Streets was opened in 1908. The first electric tram was put into use on 26 March 1908 (on the route from Krasińskich Square to Unii Lubelskiej Square). Approx. 40% of properties in the capital city were electrified in the 1920s. In 1904 the plant in Powiśle generated 2 MW of power. In 1911 the power was increased to 11.6 MW. 35 steam boilers and 12 tur-bine sets were in operation at the plant.
As new power plants emerged, a number of pro-blems appeared. Local governments were not prepared to supervise the subordinated facilities and many smaller towns could not afford to build their own power sources. A new, public form of a self-governed enterprise guaranteeing efficient business activity, with allocated property and finances, had to be created. The regulation on goal-oriented self-governed unions issued by the President of the Republic of Poland in 1928 was applied in medicine, drainage of roads, etc. The concept to use the idea for electrification purposes came into being in Łowicz in 1933. A union of poviats was established including the poviats of: Sochaczew, Łowicz, Skierniewice, Rawa, Kutno, Gostynin, Płock, Sierpc, Lipno and Rypin. The union was named ZEMWAR.
Its objective was to rationalise electricity management, build transmission and distribution lines and take over control of electrical companies within its operating area. The union was highly respected and supported, which helped it to achieve significant financial and material success. Energy supply within its operating area increased significantly (as a result of building new lines and electrification of towns and villages). Preparatory works to construct its own power plant on the Skra were commenced. ZEWMAR’s example inclined regional civil servants in other parts of the country to establish similar electrification unions. They were formed in the districts of Łódź (ZEMPOL), Lublin (LUBZEL), Warsaw Suburbs (ZEOP), Kalisz (OZEMKA), Lvov (ZEOL). Preparations to establish subsequent districts were interrupted by the tension before the outbreak of war. ZEORK (Union of Radomsko – Kielce District Power Plants) was the name of an electrification enterprise established in the Central Industrial Region on the basis of state-owned capital and the armaments industry. It succeeded in developing a medium voltage grid.
Still, new power plants were built as a result of favourable legislation. By the end of 1938 as many as 3,200 power plants were in operation, generating a total power of 1,200 MW and reaching an annual output of 4 TWh. The largest utility power plants of that period were: the Łaziska Power Plant (105 MW), the Łódź Power Plant (101 MW) and the Powiśle Power Plant (83 MW). Unfortunately, a nationwide electrical power system was not created in Poland at that time. The companies did not form a system operating in a synchronous manner. Only the fragments of a 150 kV line from the Rożnów Hydroelectric Power Plant to Warsaw with a branch line to Stalowa Wola and Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski were completed.
The plants built between 1894 and 1906 were designed for pressures ranging from 8 to 12 atm and steam temperature below 300°C. They were equipped with piston steam engines and reverberatory or battery boilers (the Power Plant in Zagłębie Dąbrowskie, Warsaw, Kraków, Poznań, Grudziądz, and Toruń). Radical changes in power plant construction took place between 1906 and 1908 when piston steam engines were replaced with steam turbines. Also, water-tube boilers with a conveyor grate were introduced. The newly produced boilers’ capacity reached 20÷30 tons/h, new turbine sets’ output amounted to 5÷6 MW, with steam parameters being 25 atm and 400°C. The interwar period in Poland brought a further increase in steam parameters to 40 atm and 450°C. Boiler capacity went up to 60t/h, while the turbine sets power reached 30 MW. Power was taken out from power plants by means of power lines ranging from 6 to 15 kV, and occasionally 30 kV.
Regrettably, the electrification activities were not successful in rural areas and the authorities were aware of the negligence. Research commenced to determine the level of expenditure on electricity in rural areas and demand for power and electric energy. The demand in 1921 was determined at the level of 3.9 TWh (reached as late as in 1938), in 1929 – 8.5 TWh and in 1936 – 9.2 TWh. These indicators had neither been achieved nor even approached. By the end of 1938, only 1,263 villages in Poland were electrified, which made up only 3% of the total number. The situation was even worse in rural households – accounting for only 2%.
The Electrical Department at the Ministry of Public Works developed an electrification programme covering tech-nical, economic and financial aspects to be implemented in the years 1925 – 1930. The plan provided for electrification of 66 poviats in the most densely populated parts of Poland (Silesia, Warsaw, Łódź, Kraków, and Częstochowa). An elaborate electrification concept was negotiated with representatives of American capital in order to grant them electrification rights (W.A. Harriman). The concept was dismissed and a new plan for the years 1931 – 1940 and an investment programme for the years 1937 – 1941 was never implemented.
198 power companies with installed capacity exceeding a megawatt were in operation in Poland in June 1939. In total their installed capacity amounted to 1,664 MW. There were 834 minor power companies with the total installed capacity of 155 MW. The aggregate net production in 1937 was 3.7 billion kWh, i.e. approx. 107 kWh per citizen a year. In 1937 the length of existing 15, 30 or 35 kV lines in district distribution networks was approx. 5.8 thousand kilometres and 40 and 60 kV transmission lines were 550 km long. The total length of 150 kV transmission lines which had existed before or were under construction amounted to 378 km. Electrification departments were operating within voivodeship offices in a total of fourteen units. Their task was to investigate cases related to licence granting as well as police and technical permits for the construction and operation of power companies.