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Power To The People

Electricity came to Vero Beach 95 years ago, and has been a source of controversy ever since.

This frame shed was the home of the original Vero Utilities Co., which supplied electricity on Wednesday mornings and from dusk to 11 p.m. every evening.

This frame shed was the home of the original Vero Utilities Co., which supplied electricity on Wednesday mornings and from dusk to 11 p.m. every evening.

Despite the recent, sometimes heated debate over the future of the Vero Beach power plant, there is nothing new about the supply of electricity being a matter of concern – and contention – in Indian River County.

Most residents think of the big, red-brick building on 19th Street as the city’s original power plant, but this is not so. The first plant began in a small way in 1917 – so small, in fact, that it was only able to supply power to a local hotel and a few offices in downtown. “Downtown,” of course, was a relative term – in those days, it consisted of the hotel, a few scattered homes, shops and offices, and herds of free-range cattle roaming through the narrow streets.

When it became clear that more power was needed, the Vero Utilities Co. was founded and a new electric plant was installed. It was still small enough to be housed in a battered frame shed and only supplied some 40 customers, who received power on Wednesday mornings and from dusk to 11 p.m. each evening.

Read the entire article in the February 2012 issue