Our own Greg Simay, Adrian Rotarian and President Nominee, presented today’s program.  Greg and his wife, Marje, came to Adrian from Burbank, California to be closer to the Michigan branch of their family: a son, daughter-in-law, five grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.  He was a charter member (1988) of the Burbank Sunrise club and was president twice, also the number of times he had missed a board meeting.  For most of his 34 years with BWP, he was an assistant General Manager.
"Whiskey's for drinking and water's for fighting."  With that quote from Mark Twain, Greg shared some "water and power" highlights about the Golden State and old hometown Burbank in particular: Farmers started settling present-day Burbank after the railroads arrived in the 1880's.  Soon after, cantelope farmers with gums were fighting of city slickers from Los Angeles trying to assert their water rights. About 100 years ago, the farmers of Owens Valley were shaking their pitchforks at Los Angeles after the new Los Angeles Aqueduct carried most of their water south. 
California's rainy season is pretty much December through early March. Three good storms dropping snow on the Sierra Nevada range is enough for avoiding drought. But until this past winter, California had season after season when it was lucky to get one decent storm. (In ancient times, entire native populations had disappeared during droughts that lasted for decades.) The state's going to have to build more underground reservoirs; these facilities saved the state's bacon during the last drought. And now into the future, Arizona and Nevada will be using their full share of water rights to the Colorado River, with little or no surplus available to California.  Sacramento will also have to get serious about maintaining its major dams like Oroville. (The state had a golden opportunity to fix the dam when the water level had been low.)
Burbank became a city proper in 1911 and remained a semi-rural town of citrus groves and a hillside winery for the next twenty years.  But then in the 1930's an airport (now named after Bob Hope) was built and used by famous aviators like Amelia Earhart.  A sizeable chunk of the movie industry located in Burbank, staying away from Los Angeles red tape and gross receipts taxes.  (The movie pioneers went west to avoid paying royalties to Edison.  They were going to settle in Phoenix but a rainstorm scared them off, they headed west to California and the rest is history.)
World War II and the years that followed brought tens of thousands of people to Burbank, most of them working for Lockheed (home of the P-38--and the original Skunkworks) or its many suppliers.  Federal money got BWP's first two power plants built around 1940, just ahead of the war.  The electric system mushroomed   During Greg’s career. BWP's strategy was to replace aging stations and lines where possible and to keep the rest well-maintained.  When high rises and new shopping centers came to Burbank, it was an opportunity to put many of the lines underground.
Power plants in Burbank and elsewhere were burning oil until the oil embargoes of the 70’s. Then they switched to natural gas.  In the 80's, Southern California utilities banded together and built several huge power plants out-of-state, including a coal-fired plant in Utah and a nuclear plant in Arizona.  (In the 1930’s Burbank bought some power from Hoover Dam, and the City Council nearly got impeached for buying power that would never be used.  It's about 2% of Burbank's power requirements today.)
Back to water: Burbank had two big breaks that helped them manage their water needs in the decades that followed.  First, the city had their own water treatment plant right in the middle of town.  Reclaimed water could service nearby parks and golf courses.  Second, when Lockheed pulled up stakes and moved  to Georgia, they had to clean up the groundwater underneath them, which Burbank got for free for the following 10 years!  Another big break: The Lockheed site got replaced with big box retail and acres of surface parking (because the soil remained contaminated below 14 feet,) which made it a magnet for customers and a sales tax casino.
Proposition 13 allowed senior citizens to stay in the area as property taxes increased dramatically due a soaring housing market. It was also the heyday for redevelopment (originally for low and moderate income housing) which turned into an "arms race" with other communities of offering attractive incentives for businesses looking to relocate. Burbank largely benefited from its redevelopment efforts, but statewide abuses put redevelopment on the budget chopping block.
Greg looks forward to leaning the lore of his new hometown of Adrian. Thanks for a great presentation!