Utilizing the Forces of the Rhine*
In the year 1883 Carl Weiss, a civil engineer, conceived the idea of using the power of the River Rhine at Basel for the purpose of turning Switzerland’s busy wheels of industry and for transmission to electrically arranged machines in Baden. His purpose was originally to confine it to a very limited neighborhood in and about Basel. The city government and Basel’s stout burghers looked upon the new enterprise with a friendly eye. Examination, however, proved that other points than those in and on both sides of Basel offered much more favorable conditions for Mr. Weiss’s purpose. For twenty years Weiss had been making himself familiar with electrical instruments used as transmitters of this new and wonderful force. It was therefore natural that his thoughts first turned to such instruments as the best and cheapest for transmitting the new powers about to be accumulated from the deep and rapid flowing river.
The rapidity with which Edison and others are bringing the dynamo and other machines to perfection; the possibility of adding electric light as well as power to his results where coal is frightfully dear, was more than enough to convince Weiss and his friends that electricity was of all means the best for carrying out their designs. There exists now a properly organized company, with good men and money, ready to carry Weiss’s plans into effect.
* Report by Consul Monaghan of Mannheim.
The plane and trigonometrical work is finished, and was carried out with the utmost care. The Basel government assumed, I am told, a certain control or supervision of the work. (Governmental acts of 1886.) The works on the Swiss and German sides of the river have been all that could have been desired. The canal into which the water producing the power is to run is 4300 meters (a meter is 39 inches) long and 39 meters wide, has in each side a water path for rafts, and. near the turbine wheel basin a raft sluice through which also the fish have free ingress and egress. The basin of the canal luckily, will pass over stone bottom. Mathematical measurement shows the canal to have a fall of 3.89 meters, or about 4 yards or 12 feet; a net fall of 3.54 meters, or nearly 4 yards, with a water flow of 200 cubic meters a second, is certain. This immense volume of falling water is to turn turbine wheels, and is expected to yield a useful effect of 75 per cent. The water-power is about 9440 horse-power, of which the turbines are to take up and the wires transmit 7000. This power is to be transmitted to the mills, factories and workshops; and after allowing for a 25 per cent loss in transmission 5000 horsepower still remains to turn wheels and make light. The territory in the immediate vicinity of the new station requires 10,000 horse-power and about 3000 horse-power to produce light. A large part of the power to be produced has already been subscribed for, and if success, as no doubt it will, crowns the efforts of the present enterprise, the experiment will he repeated on every mile of the Rhine from the hills of Switzerland to the plains of Holland. For centuries the old river has turned the wheels of grist mills anchored on its bosom; until now, however, no one thought to gather its strength and apply it as above indicated. The works of the new enterprise cost a little over $2,200,000. This sum was expended: 4 per cent to buy land; 6 percent, purchase of rights; 42.6 per cent, earth excavations, etc., wall building and stone work; 21 per cent, electrical apparatus; 7 per cent, turbines, sluices and transmitters; 1.3 per cent for machine or engine house and office; 1.1 per cent, to directors of the work; 17 per cent, sundry expenses, The money required has long since been gurranteed, and is secured in the best possible manner. For the fisheries and land along the canal’s course everything has been secured by contracts regularly entered into and made. A balance indicates the company’s expectations.
Machinery, interest or amount towards decrease of debt, 170.000 francs; payment on 11 1/2 at one-half of 1 per cent, 57,000 francs; care, keeping, etc., of machinery, 60,000 francs; care of canal, 20,000 francs; payment of help, 70,000 francs; laboratory, 10,000 francs; sundries, 13,000 francs; total, 400,000 francs.
The income expected is:
For power; 2500 horse-power for 3000 hours at 0.08 francs, 600,000 francs; 2500 horse-power for 5000 hours at 0.08 francs, 1,000,000 francs. For light, 15,000 lights at 30 francs, 450.000 francs. Total income, 2,050,000 francs.
This shows a clear gain of 1,650,000 francs, or 14.34 per cent, on invested capital. The capital was paid in exchange for shares of 500 francs, or $100, but which were put on the market at a nominal value of 110 per cent. Payments were made as follows, or to be made: 20 per cent upon signing for shares, and the rest after publication during the two years’ time of building, each time with 10 per cent. During this time the paid-up or in capital draws interest at 5 per cent, more than most banks are paying. The division of the gains are to be as follows: Ten per cent goes to the reserve funds, 5 per cent to the directors, and the remainder as may be decided at meetings of the shareholders. Some of the best houses in Switzerland and Baden are interested in the project,