Lara M. Bangerter | Lehi Historical Society
When Utah Power and Light Company tripled the cost of running Lehi’s 183 streetlights from 90 cents to $3 per month in 1925, then-Mayor Joseph S. Broadbent had all of the light bulbs removed to avoid the rate increase. The streets of Lehi were dark for 12 months.
According to “A Guide to Lehi City’s Historical Sites and Places,” “The city council voted instead to develop its own municipal power plant. After examining several other facilities, city officials recommended that a special bond election be held to undertake the project.
“The $18,500 bond was approved by citizens on June 15, 1926. That day, city workers removed all 183 light bulbs from the U. P. & L. sockets to avoid the rate increase. For the next 12 months, the town’s streets were dark at night.
“Lehi’s power plant, the first municipal facility in Utah to use diesel generators, was built near the Denver Rio Grande and Orem Interurban tracks at Third North and Fifth West. The plant officially opened on June 15, 1927.
“After initiating a test case before the Utah Supreme Court, which affirmed that Lehi’s municipal power plant was legal, the city commenced expanding its generating capability to provide residential electricity. Eighty percent of Lehi homes had signed up for this power by the fall of 1929, and the municipality remained in the power-generating business until 1946.”
The city then traded Lehi’s generating equipment to Utah Power and Light, and the city again began purchasing power from the company and distributing it to citizens over the municipality’s lines.
In 2018, Lehi opened a new Power Department building, the Broadbent Power Generating Facility, at 650 W. Glen Carter Dr. The facility is named after the former mayor who first saw the need for Lehi to have its own power department many years ago.
Joseph Samuel Broadbent (1863-1937) served three terms as Lehi’s 24th mayor from 1922-1927. He was the second-generation owner of Broadbent & Son at the northeast corner of 100 North and 100 East. He died suddenly on Feb. 4, 1937, leaving the store to his 20-year-old son, John Shaw Broadbent, who ran the store almost until his death in 2003.