For more than a decade, retired teacher Drew Wilson has taken on the persona of Thomas Alva Edison to represent Southern California Edison Co. at school assemblies, public exhibitions and fairs (see photo). Although he bears no relation to the inventor, Wilson is one of the best Edison impersonators, said SCE spokesman Charlie Basham. "He captivates the children's imagination and gets them involved, and he lets kids come up with ideas for inventions."
Wilson, who rode on the utility's float in the Tournament of Roses Parade two years ago in honor of the 150th anniversary of Edison's birth, also portrays Edison for other utility companies and for visitors at the inventor's West Orange, N.J., laboratory. In fact, he says, "I'm beginning to think I am Tom Edison."
Meanwhile, in the city of brotherly love and customer choice, Ben Franklin, (as played by Ralph Archibald, who reportedly is a distant relative of the founding father of electricity), initiated Pennsylvania's Electric Choice two-year phase-in by signing up to receive electricity from the mythical Kite & Key Electric Co.
Northern States Power Co. has purchased the rights to a third familiar face, Reddy Kilowatt. The lightning-bolt body with the light bulb nose and outlet ears, who was widely used by investor-owned electric utilities from the 1940s through the 1970s, has been "clearly recognizable and identifiable with customer-friendly energy services," said Jim Howard, NSP chairman, president and CEO. "We're excited about changing with the times, yet we want to play to our strengths. Reddy Kilowatt, with his proven ability to win customer awareness and acceptance, compliments our view of where NSP will be in the future."