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American electric utilities are now faced with the serious problem of buying cable oils whose properties at the present time cannot be adequately defined. This situation arose because of circumstances peculiar to oil-impregnated paper-insulated cables and the manufacturers who produce them. The utilities feel that this problem must be solved to assure satisfactory maintenance of the high-voltage cables already installed and to lend confidence that the higher voltage cables required for the future will be a safe investment. The utility viewpoint on cable oils does not differ fundamentally from that applicable to all of the tools used by the utility in producing and selling electric power and light. This viewpoint can be expressed by the familiar adage, “The status quo is sacred unless there is a good and sufficient reason for a change,” and a corollary, “Any change should be well conceived and well executed.” These are not startling propositions, and in fact they serve as a yardstick in plotting the course of human conduct throughout the ages, whether as individuals, political groups, or business organizations. The degree of success of any enterprise can be related to the wisdom used in adhering to well-tested practices, in deciding when there is a good and sufficient reason for a change, and in determining what that change should be and how it should be made. In reviewing the history of utilities one sees that there have been areas of fixed policies and areas where practically continuous changes have been the rule. Examples in the former category include the policies of (1) buying equipment designed and manufactured by specialists in their fields, (2) buying by specifications, (3) cooperating closely with manufacturers in the operation and maintenance of their respective products, and (4) buying American products. In the second category there have been changes: (1) to accomplish a fixed purpose in a better way, (2) to perform a specific operation on a larger scale, and (3) to overcome a circumstance beyond the control of the utilities.
Gates, A. M.
Senior Engineer, Philadelphia Electric Co., Philadelphia, Pa.
Gillette, R. W.
Senior Engineer, Consolidated Edison Company of New York, Inc., New York, N. Y.