Ultimo Power Station

The Ultimo Power Station, or Ultimo Powerhouse, was an electricity generating plant located in the inner-city Sydney suburb of Ultimo, New South Wales. Commissioned in 1899, it was the first major power station in Sydney and was originally built to supply power for the electric tram network. Prior to this, a small installation had existed at Regent Street, which was brought into use on 15 June 1882. Additionally, experimental electric tram operations powered by small generators had been in intermittent use in Sydney since 1890.


Generating plant

Ultimo Power Station boasted a mixture of equipment, initially consisting of American-made steam engines coupled to dynamoelectric machines (direct current generators). Later generating units were British-made turbo-alternators. Most of the alternating current (AC) equipment operated at 6,600 volts, 25 cycles per second.

Direct current plant – 600 V

The original generating plant at Ultimo consisted of four cross-compound, reciprocating steam engines supplied by E.P. Allis & Co of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, each rated at 1250 horsepower (hp) and running at 100 rpm. HP cylinder diameter was 26:in (660:mm) and LP cylinder diameter was 48:in (1,219:mm). Steam pressure was 125 pounds per square inch (860:kPa). Each steam engine was coupled to a multi-pole, compound-wound dynamo supplied by the General Electric Company (GE) of Schenectady, New York. Each dynamo (generator) was rated at 849.75:kW (1,139.53:hp) at 550 volts direct current (1545 amperes) and could be overloaded by up to 50 percent to satisfy peak demand. To cater to the growing demand of the electrified tram network, the engines were frequently run at 1,600:hp (1,200:kW). Each tram had less than 200:hp (150:kW) worth of motors, but the original installation did not allow for growth. It followed that expansion of the power station beyond the initial four units was planned from the... ...read more

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