Centennial Celebration

A short history of CIGRE - part 2

This article has been published for the first time in September 1951, Edition ELECTRA N.10.
Written by J. Tribot-Laspière, General Delegate of the CIGRE

Session 1946

As decided by the Council, the 1946 Conven­tion was held from June 27 to July 6 at the Fondation Berthelot like that of 1939. Of all the difficulties of every kind encountered by its Secretariate, the want of paper was the most serious, The Delegates, on their side, had theirs. Passports and visas were difficult to obtain, currency was extremely limited, travelling facilities uncertain, a want of comfort still existed in Paris. Despite all that, the number of members to the Convention exceeded all expectations. 450 or 500 Delegates were expected : 877 came from 30 countries.

The Convention naturally offered a considerable interest from the fact that many countries had been deprived for 7 years of all technical information on the work and the improvements carried out elsewhere. It gave to everyone the opportunity so long expected, of meeting again the colleagues from countries which had escaped enemy occupation.

It proved (but was it necessary ?) that the CIGRE had without any damage borne the crisis of a 7 years' war and that it met a real need and an international necessity. 

Jean Tribot-Laspière, General Delegate of the CIGRE

Session 1948 - Resignation of Mr. Mercier, Mr. Schmidt President

The 1948 Convention manifested a complete comeback of all Cigrean activity. ln spite of the persisting diffi­culties of visas and currency, the number of the members of the Convention suddenly passed the thousand mark and reached 1144 as compared with 877 in 1946, i.e. an increase of 267 members, or 30 %.

But a Congress of 1144 persons and to which we must add 180 ladies or other associated members, cannot be organized in the same manner as a Congress of 87. In 1948 more than 300 persons were present at the same time at some Sessions which showed the necessity in the future of having larger rooms. 

Owing to the increasing importance of the discussions half-a-day was no longer sufficient for each great question : simultaneous meetings became a necessity. Until 1946 there never had been simultaneous meetings, so that each member of the Convention was able, if he so wished, to be present at all the discussions and thus to study the whole technique of high voltages. But from 1948 it was necessary to modify this principle and on two occasions there were two simultaneous meetings.

Some members of the Convention regretted that : so, before making a final decision, the CIGRE consulted its National Committees. Most of them took a favourable view of such simultaneous meetings but they expressed the wish that these simultaneous meetings be as few as possible. The 1950 Convention was organized on this basis. 

It is in the course of the 1948 Convention that Mr Ernest MERCIER expressed the wish to be released of his office as President of the CIGRE which he had held for 14 years. In spite of the most urgent insistence of his colleagues, he hid not accept re-election and the Council was obliged to accept his decision which was unanimously regretted. 

Up to then the Council always elected a Frenchman as President, a courtesy which the French always appreciated very much. Howe­ver, when a successor to Mr MERCIER was to be named, the Council, on the suggestion of the French themselves, admitted that it was natural that the presidency should pass henceforth into the hands of personalities of other nationalities and a Swiss of Lausanne, Mr. R.A. SCHMIDT, was unanimously elected. Mr. MERCIER remained a member of the Council thanks to his unanimous election as Honorary President. 

Mr. R.A. SCHMIDT, President of Energie de l'Ouest Suisse, is one of the most eminent Swiss personalities and occupied for 14 years the prcsidency of the Union des Centrales Suisses. He has been President of the Union Internationale des Producteurs et Distri­buteurs d' Énergie Électrique and brought to the CIGRE not only remarkable technical knowledge but also like Mr. MERCIER far-­reaching relations in many other countries. 

With him the CIGRE can look forward to a bright future.

1950 Convention

1252 members - out of them 1133, i.e. 92% - really attended the Convention with 325 ladies, that is to say I 577 persons in all. It was a long way from the 231 Dele­gates of 1921. 

1577 persons in all, 144 papers... Such a growing success is certainly satisfying but we may wonder why the CIGRE does not run the risk of suffering from its own success. 

144 papers, each of 18.3 pages as an average, represented too large a bulk. We can certainly rejoice, from the point of view of the prestige and the utility of CIGRE, that many authors seek the honour and perhaps their own reputation by presenting a paper before its Conventions. 

But it must be within reasonable limits. Now two difficulties result from such a large number of papers : the printing expenses become excessive and are a heavy burden on the budget of a Conven­tion and on the other hand, the members of the Convention have not sufficient time to study the papers well enough in advance, even those which are for them of special interest. 

The question of the number of papers is not very difficult to be solved and the Council has henceforth reduced by 20% the number of papers to be presented in 1952. This proportion might be more important in the case of future Conventions. 

As regards the possible limitation in the number of the members to a Convention, the question is pending since 1950. 

The 1950 Convention, which was the 13th, was also held in Centre Berthelot. But the number of simultaneous meetings was greater : there were six sets, each of two simultaneous meetings so that it was possible to organize 20 meetings, instead of 16 in 1948 and 14 in 1946, and to have 70 hours of discussion, instead of 46 in 1946 and 52 in 1948.

The time devoted to the discussions was then much more conside­rable than in previous Conventions and the discussions were deeper. On the other hand the meetings were presided over by the Chairmen of Study Committees, all of whom being especially competent in such difficult matters. The discussions were then led in a close connection with the work of the Study Committees, with method and continuity. 

A last word on the Convention. Although the ventilation of a part of the Convention Rooms was very much improved, the summer was so intensely hot that many members of the Convention suffered from the heat and expressed the wish that the traditional date, the last Thursday of June, be advanced : This wish will be complied with for the 1952 Convention which will be opened on Wednesday May 28 and concluded on Saturday June 7. 

National Committees

The name and the idea of the National Committees, which have been in existence since 1931 only, came from the I.E.C. but there is a fundamental difference between them and the latter : while the I. E.C. is a Federation of country-members represented by National Committees in the name of which all the members of its International meetings act, the CIGRE, as noted above, is an Asso­ciation of persons in which each one speaks in his own name only and represents himself alone. 

In the I. E.C. the National Committees are the real and only members of the Association while the National Committees of the CIGRE are merely the intermediaries between the members of the Association and the General Secretariate in Paris, very essential intermediaries as we shall see. 

Their origin is to be found in one of the resolutions passed by the 2nd Convention in 1923, which, realizing the necessity of organizing the Conference little by little, expressed the wish "that in each country there be founded a Committee of some members with a view to making the Conference known, to inciting the most compe­tent engineers to present papers, to accepting the most important papers only and to sending these papers as early as possible to the General Secretariate so that they may be translated, printed and distributed before the opening of the Conventions".

Complying with this wish, three National Committees were formed, respectively, in Great Britain, the Netherlands and Italy. But the creation of other Committees took some time, the 1925 Convention recommended it again in its Resolution Nr 2 and the 1927 Convention returned to the question and again expressed the wish "that each country constitutes, as had been done in others, a National Committee the object of which should be ..." 

And we reach 1931, a year in which there was created a perma­nent Association which stipulates in Art. 11 of its Statutes the creation of National Committees having for object "to participate in the preparation of the Conventions, to encourage the presen­tation of papers to the Conventions, to forward these papers to the Conference within the given time, to obtain more adherences to the Association and to the Conventions, to make the Conference known in the country" a text which is almost word for word that of the 1923 Convention. 

Since then a number of National Committees have been created and on January 1, 1951, they were 32 in number. Their role, as stated above, is purely administrative, and the National Commitee of a country is an intermediary only, between the General Secre­tariate in Paris and the permanent members of the country concerned. Such an intermediary considerably lightens the task of the General Secretariate and greatly facilitates the connection of the latter with its 1600 members. 

The essential work of the National Committees, which represents much activity, work, devotedness and time, may be defined as follows : 
To obtain from the most competent engineers papers of interest, to transmit to the CIGRE only those of real value, to insure that the manuscripts rigorously comply with the rules concerning the papers, to collect and to transmit the annual membership fees of their members, to collect and to transmit the registrations for the Conventions, to increase the number of their permanent members, to give to the Administrative Council (which often consults them) useful and interesting advice.

The CIGRE fully appreciates the value of such a role and desires to thank warmly and sincerely its National Committees without the co-operation of which it would have been prevented from realizing its programme and its development in spite of its most earnest wish. It desires to express its best thanks especially to their chairmen and their ever so diligent Secretaries. 

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The International Study Committees

The 1921 and 1923 Conventions had no connection between them, as it was not yet known whether they would be followed by others. Since 1925, it became clear that the CIGRE was beginning to assume a shape and that it was necessary to create a technical continuity from one Session to another. This continuity has been ensured by the international Study Committees the importance of which has been in constant growth. The first Study Committee was founded in the course of the 1925 Convention under the chairmanship of Mr Norberg SCHULZ. It was devoted to statistics but was transferred to UNIPED when this association was formed.

Three other Committees were instituted by the 1927 Convention, those for Insulating Oils, Cables and Circuit Breakers. Some other ones were formed later : lnsulators and Surges in 1929, Overhead Lines and Telephone Interferences in 1931, Towers and Tower Foundations in 1935, then Reactive and Distorting Phenomena and the Sub-Committee for Filling Compounds for Cable Boxes.

A very important Liaison Committee was further instituted to cooperate with C.C.I.F. (Comité Consultatif International Téléphonique : International Telephone Advisory Committee) and C.M.I. (Commission Mixte Internationale pour les expériences relatives à la protection des lignes de télécommunication et des canalisations souterraines : Joint International Committee for experiences related to the protection of telecommunication lines and underground pipes).

After the war, the following Committees were created : Relaying, A.C. Transmission at E. H. Voltages, D.C. Transmission at E.H. Voltages, High Frequency Teletransmission, Transformers, System Stability, Insulation, Coordination, Generators.

At present (1951) the Study Committees are 17 in number.

Initially, any Cigrean might be registered as a member of a Committee. But it became clear that many of them intended only when doing so, to get information and took no part in the work. On the other hand, the number of the members of a Committee reached sometimes 40 or 50 people, which rendered all efficient work impossible.

It is for these reasons that the Administrative Council decided on May 5, 1947, to limit to 12 the maximum number of the members of a Study Committee and to have these members appointed by the National Committees.

As that number proved to be a little too low, it was increased to 16 by a decision of the Administrative Council of June 20, 1951.

The Rules concerning the Study Committees are extremely simple and are made up of 6 articles only. The Chairmen of the Committees have practically full powers and are quite free to  direct as they think best the work of their colleagues and to apply such working methods as they may think fit. The importance and efficiency of a Study Committee depend essentially upon  the competence and the devotedness of its chairman, but it has been proved that all the chairmen comply with these conditions in spite of their very heavy personal business.

A Chairman of a Study Committee must be assisted by a diligent Secretary and as far as possible by a special translator. If such a triple cooperation is realised, the working conditions are the best possible.

The working language of the Study Committees for discussions and documents are English and French. As far as possible the members of the Committees are chosen from among those specialists speaking both languages.

The Study Committee Chairmen having regretted that the number of the members of their Committees was too strictly limited, the Administrative Council made the two following decisions :

  1. Every member of a Study Committee is invited to consult in his own country the most competent of his colleagues and to ask them to act as his "advisors" : it is possible by this means to form in each country a national sub-committee;
  2. The chairman of each Committee is permitted with a view to establishing on a wider basis the work and the conclusions of his Committee, to accept the cooperation of experts chosen  in the various countries by the members of his Committee and eventually to ask these experts to take part in certain meetings of the Committee. Such experts may be either ''advisors" connected with the object of the Committee or any other person especially competent. These experts form a "Study Group".

A first Study Group has been recently constituted by Mr. MARGOULIES, chairman of the Relaying Committee. At the beginning, the object of the Study Committees was simply
to enable the Cigreans to continue to exchange their views between two consecutive Conventions.

But it has become clear that the action of the Study Committee Chairmen could be reinforced if each of them was appointed during the Conventions to preside over the discussion of the "Group of Papers" dealing with the object of his Committee. 

Whilst, in the previous Conventions, the chairmanships were distributed according to international courteousness, at present the chairman of a "Group of Papers" is the chairman of the  corresponding Committee, and thus it is possible to maintain a perfect continuity of work from one Convention to the following.

Thus each Study Committee with its Chairman, its secretary and often with its own interpreter, with its 16 regular Members, its advisors and its Study Group, forms one of the 17 fundamental cells on which CIGRE is based.

Organization of the work and of the convention

We shall now add to the details of the preceding pages some further information, which may be summed up as a "short story" of the organization of the meetings.

Platform - From 1921, so that the Chairmen of the Meetings might have their full liberty as leaders in discussions there was appointed a Platform Secretary with a view to freeing them from all material preoccupations, as well as a Section Secretary whose duty was to take down the notes necessary to the drawing up of the minutes of the discussions.

But the appointment of special reporters is more recent. Suggested in 1927, it became definitive in 1931 only and was improved from Convention to Convention and finally led to some Rules defining their mission and their connection with the chairmen of the meetings, during which they have to act. It was recognized in fact that the excellent connection of a special reporter with the chairman of a meeting was essential and since 1946 the preparatory study of the papers to be discussed during a meeting, as well as the order of the discussions, is made in advance by both of them. 

The CIGRE has gone even further, The special reporters are no longer changed and since the war have been the same at the discussion of each group of papers during the Conventions. The presidency of the meetings which was previously shared out of courtesy is now confided to the Chairmen of the International Study Commit­tees, so that the order of the discussions is prepared in advance and a perfect continuity is assured for each subject from one Conven­tion to the next. 

The post of the general reporters which existed in 1921 and which had not been continued for some successive Conventions, was again restored by the Council in 1948.

To be continued...

Centennial Celebration

A short history of CIGRE

Read Part 1

Centennial Celebration

During the celebration of CIGRE’s centennial, each issue of Electra will feature a short article on our organization’s history and development.

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