The Bertini power plant is Edison's oldest hydroelectric facility and one of the oldest in Italy. At the time of its inauguration, in September 1898, the Bertini power plant was the biggest power station in Europe and the second biggest in the world. The facility scored a series of technological records: it was the most powerful hydroelectric facility in Europe, second worldwide only to the Niagara Falls power station. Its turbines (Riva, Monneret & C.) were the first in Europe whose unitary power exceeded 2000 HP; the generators (Brown, Boveri & C.) produced 13,500 V in voltage (at a time where 10,000 V had only been obtained in lab experiments) and powered the grid directly, without using step-up transformers; the switches used on the machines were the first to interrupt such powerful and high-voltage currents. Even the poles in the overhead line connecting to Milan and the insulators were specifically conceived for this facility. The main goal of this facility was to ensure enough power was generated to electrify the tram line in Milan, a municipal service for which Edison was given a licence by the Municipal authorities. On 19th December 1898, the last horse-powered tram line (in Porta Ticinese) was finally served by electric trams. Milan became one of the first cities in Europe to entirely convert to mechanical traction.
How the facility works
This facility is part of the Adda chain of hydroelectric power plants involving the municipalities of Robbiate (LC) and Cornate d’Adda (MI), consisting of the “Carlo Esterle”, “Guido Semenza” and “Angelo Bertini” power stations.
The power station is located on the middle course of the Adda river, downstream of the Como lake, in the municipalities of Paderno d’Adda (LC) and Cornate d’Adda (MI).