In February 1920 the All-Russian Central Executive Committee of the Soviets set out to provide the entire nation with electrical power with the introduction of the State Electrification Commission (GOELRO). The commission proposed a network of about 30 regional power stations.The plan was intended to increase the total national power output per year to 8.8 billion kWh. The “Russian SFSR Electrification Plan” was approved in December 1920 by the 8th Congress of Soviets.
While there is no doubt that the prospect of electrifying the entire country must have seemed like an impossible feat, Soviet leaders knew that dramatic action had to be taken to achieve their social vision. As described by Lenin, nation-wide electrification was essential in transforming Russia from a “small-peasant basis into a large-scale industrial basis.” In order to make this leap, the Soviets would have to do more than just alter social institutions and convert the ideological beliefs of the Russian people. More importantly, they had to revamp the economic, and by extension political, standing of their soon to be Soviet Union.
In Lenin’s own words, the overall goal of electrification was “…the organization of industry on the basis of modern, advanced technology, on electrification which will provide a link between town and country, will put an end to the division between town and country, will make it possible to raise the level of culture in the countryside and to overcome, even in the most remote corners of land, backwardness, ignorance, poverty, disease, and barbarism.” During the 10 years following the introduction of the GOELRO plan the commission diligently worked to construct power plants throughout 8 regions in the country. By 1931 the goal of increasing Russia’s power output to 8.8 billion kWh per year had been achieved and the country was well on it’s way to becoming a seemingly unstoppable world power. Ideology aside, the electrification of Russia may have been the most effective action the Soviets could have ever taken to transform the nation.
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Freeze, Gregory L. Russia: A History. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. 321-340. Print.