Electrifying the UNC Campus

Though electricity now seems to pump endlessly and uninterrupted through the university system and hospitals, the role that Energy Services at the University of North Carolina has played over the past forty years has changed significantly.  From approximately 1895 to 1976, Energy Services at UNC was the sole provider of electricity to the towns of Chapel Hill and Carrboro.  In 1977 with the sale of their resources to Duke Power (now Duke Energy), the University’s Energy Services focused their attention on only the campus.

It seems strange to think of the University functioning without electricity, but it did for over one hundred years, until a Physics professor named Joshua Gore took steps to electrifying the town for what he claimed were safety reasons.  Here in the University Archives, we just processed the records of the Department of Energy Services.  The records primarily focus on 1977 to 2000, but one can also find maps and drawings dating from the 1930s and 1940s.  The records detail some incredibly interesting pieces of information—how did the university modernize for the year 2000?  How did energy services check for PCBs after the controversies of the 1980s?  What really happens behind the scenes every time you turn on a light switch on campus?

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