A big new organization, equipped with ample capital and backed by men of national reputation, has purchased all the property and right of the Bend Water Light & Power Co. The name of the new holding company is the Central Oregon Power Co. While it now exclusively owns all the stock of the B. W. L. & P. Co., the name of the latter will be retained for the unit of the Central Oregon Power Co.’s activities included in the local power, water and light plant.
The president of the new organization and its heaviest financial backer is Charles A. Brown of Chicago. Kempster B. Miller of Chicago is general manager and is also extensively interested In the ownership of the corporation, which is capitalized at $200,000. Harvey Hanson of Chicago is secretary. The Bend Company was the former owner of the property, the sale being consummated last week. Included in the transfer is all the stock of the B. W. L. & P. Co., which covers ownership to its entire water, light and power plant equipment and water right in Bend, 240 acres at Benham Falls and 80 acre at Lava Falls, both Including the power rights of these two great ,water falls, just south of Bend.
Mr. Miller, who is here and made the announcement of the purchase Sunday, would say nothing more definite concerning the amount involved in the transfer other than that he and his associates had “paid a large amount and had paid most of it in cash.”
Has Great Significance.
The biggest significance of the deal is contained in the business reputation and character of the men comprising the new company. It is because they have done big things, and are able and more than willing to do big things for Bend, that men familiar with the fact unreservedly say: “This is the best thing that has ever happened to Bend, excepting only, perhaps, the arrival of the railroads.”
Mr. Brown is a lawyer. He is a man of great wealth, and has been intimately connected with the electric light and power business since it inception. He has owned a number of plants throughout the middle west, and is considered not only one of the most powerful financial backer for electrical enterprise in the country, but also as being a notable expert on power development.
Mr. Miller is a partner in the Chicago firm of McMeen & Miller, consulting engineers. While Mr. McMeen is not financially interested in the new company, he is actively associated with it in an advisory capacity. An idea of the standing of the firm is given by the fact that after the San Francisco fire it engineered and built in that city the entire plant of the Home Telephone Company, an enterprise involving the expenditure or over $7,000,000. After its completion Mr. McMeen managed it for two year.”
Handled Big Jobs.
Mr. Miller is now consulting engineer for a number of large railway, light and power companies. Mr. McMeen was president of the Mt. Hood Railway Light & Power Co., until its absorption by the Portland Railway Light & Power Co. Another important project conducted by Mr. Miller was the complete planning of the telegraph fire alarm system for the Burrough of Manhattan, in New York City, the most valuable property area in the world. He was consulting engineer tor the New York Board Fire Underwriter. Formerly Mr. Miller’s chief business was with telephones. He is the author of “American Telephone Practice,” a manual of telephone procedure that today the supreme authority in its field. In 1911, for five months, he conducted a telephone rate investigation in Los Angeles, on behalf of the city. Of late his chief activities have been as an advising engineer, principally for electric railway companies. Mr. McMeen is president of the Columbus (Ohio) Railway, Light & Power Co. and is associated many other important electrical projects.
A Permanent Proposition.
None of the men associated with the new enterprise is a promoter, or ever connected with the promotion any scheme. Miller states positively their purchase here is an out and out “buy,” they to bring a lot money for local development, as openings for it arise, and they to stay with Bend permanently.
Mr. Brown was here only once, and that time during a rainstorm, but he saw to send him back to Chicago a Bend enthusiast.
Mr. Miller has here several times and has investigated thoroughly all possible local features.
T. H. Foley, hitherto In charge of B. W. L. & P. Co., will continue as local manager, responsibilities of his work being materially increased. Before coming to Bend, Mr. Foley was manager of the electric plant in Fairbanks, Alaska, a city of 7000 population. For the present Mr. Miller will remain in Bend and expects to retain active direction of affairs, especially as regards construction.
Work will be resumed immediately on the new power house, which has been delayed pending the outcome of the negotiations that led up to the sale. Sand and gravel are on the ground for the concrete building which probably will be 30 by 100 feet. The unit that will be installed now will be a 350-kilowatt generator and turbine, with at least a 25 per cent overload capacity. The cost of the plant now to be constructed will be about $40,000, this including only the first power unit. The ultimate cost will of course be much greater. The present plant of 250 kilowatts capacity, will be retained and used as required. As work develops for it, all of 2000 horsepower obtainable from the present dam will be utilized. In addition to the site of the present plant, covering nine acres, the transfer includes three additional acres immediately north of this. Mr. Miller estimates the amount of power economically obtainable at the Benham and Lava falls properties at about 20,000 horsepower. In addition to the 2000 obtainable directly at Bend.
First Class Service Promised.
“It is the earnest desire of the new management to give the people of Bend a thoroughly first class service which will be extended just as rapidly as the growth of the town justifies–and a little faster, too, for we want to keep ahead of the game,” said Mr. Miller.
He further made this statement for publication:
“The entire capital stock and assets of the Bend Water Light & Power Co. have been purchased outright by the Central Oregon Power Co. The sale, besides including the power plant and water and lighting systems in Bend, also includes certain real estate not formerly owned by the B. W. L. & P. Co. Part of this real estate is located in Bend, but the major part of it is at Important power sites up the river and near Bend.”
“The Bend Company, from whom the purchase was made, retains no interest whatever in the property, and all of the stock and other assets is now vested in the Central Oregon Power Co.”
“The Central Oregon Power Co. is an Illinois corporation, formed for the purpose of developing water power properties, not only in Bend but in other Central Oregon towns as such other development warrants. Its principal stockholders are Chas. A. Brown of Chicago, myself and a few of our associates. The concern is amply financed by private capital for permanent investment. Mr. Brown, the president, has been associated with the power and lighting business from its earliest inception, and has owned and operated properties, principally throughout the middle west.”
“The corporate existence of the Bend Water Light & Power Co. will be maintained and It will do business in Bend as before, but on an enlarged scale. Just as soon as arrangements can be made and within n few weeks, the offices will be moved to other quarters, but until this change can be made the office will continue at Its present location, by courtesy of The Bend Company.”
“Work on the new power plant has been begun. This will be a concrete structure and we hope to have the first new unit In service within three months. The capacity of the present plant is crowded to tho utmost. Already during the last few weeks, before the final closing of the sale, which was consummated last Saturday, we have been extending the electric light lines and also the water mains into territory not heretofore reached. This policy will continue as we intend to keep the extent of the present plant at all times commensurate with the expected rapid growth of the town.”
“The present extent of the plant speaks volumes for the enterprise of Bend. I know of no other town of its size that has a water light and power plant of anywhere near equal extent. I promise that the local company will immediately extended the plant to meet all possible demands for service, and will further meet the public more than half way in establishing the friendly relation that we hope will exist.”
As Mr. miller has had the experience on both sides of the fence, as regards public service corporations — acting for the producer as engineer and for the consumer when conducting investigations for municipalities he has some clear cut ideas regarding the rights of the consumer, and ideas that are becoming more and more general of late. In speaking along this line, he said:
“We want the good will of the people of Bend. We come here as strangers and as neighbors. Our interests are identical with those of every man, woman and child In Bend. We all want our town to develop and grow into a big city. We are going to try to do our share. Courtesy will be our byword. We are a public service corporation; that is, we are, in a measure, public servants. Too many public service corporations misunderstand their position and try to go on the assumption that they are ‘public masters’ instead of public servants. But the ‘public be damned’ policy is a thing of the past all over the country. We have come to stay. That we think Bend offers a wonderful opportunity for development is shown by the fact we and our friends have backed its future with our money.”
During the last month about $5000 has been spent in enlargement of the local light and water service, including the construction of pole lines in Deschutes, Wiestoria and Kenwood. This expenditure was made under the direction of the new company.
The fact that Mr. Miller and his associates have been closely identified with the construction and operation of electrical railways naturally has given rise to tho prediction that the Central Oregon Power Company has schemes “up its sleeve” in that field. Mr. Miller, while stating that he is not now in position to make any definite announcements concerning contemplated plans, does not hesitate to say that with the power it controls, the field that is open for such development, and the experience of tho directors of the new organization, it may naturally be expected to interest itself in electric railway development, in addition to caring for the local lighting and power requirements.
A. O. Hunter, who, with his brother, D. E. Hunter, was instrumental in getting Mr. Miller interested In the local project, came in with him and will be here several days.
Source: Bend Bulletin