John Gerzema: Edison Was Right
Nextek promotes the efficient "organic power" of direct current in Detroit.
Paul Savage, Ceo: Nextek Power Systems Detroit, MI.
Two blocks off Detroit’s Woodward Avenue, inside an industrial building on Burroughs Street, a half-dozen engineers who work for Nextek Power Systems gather around a whiteboard where they have scrawled notes based on read-outs from a computer screen. They are analyzing data on the performance of an innovative power system based on Thomas Edison’s preferred form of electric supply—direct current. Also called DC, direct current is the juice that comes out of batteries, fuel cells, solar panels, and other sustainable energy sources. Because it is difficult and expensive to transmit over great distances, Edison’s DC lost out to alternating current—AC—when the electric age began. AC, promoted by George Westinghouse and Nikola Tesla, allowed for a single huge generating station to supply power for homes and businesses spread over hundreds if not thousands of square miles. To make use of this system, lights, appliances, and motors were all built to operate on AC, and it became the standard.