Goelro Plan

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Goelro Plan


the first unified state long-range plan for the national economic development of the Soviet republic; it was based on the electrification of the nation.

The plan was worked out in 1920 by GOELRO (the State Commission for the Electrification of Russia) on the instructions and under the leadership of V. I. Lenin. The commission was formed by the presidium of the Supreme Council on the National Economy on Feb. 21, 1920, in accord with the resolution of the Feb. 3, 1920, session of the All-Union Central Executive Committee concerning the elaboration of an electrification plan. Involved in the work of the commission were more than 200 scientists and technicians, including I. G. Aleksandrov, G. O. Graftio, A. G. Kogan, K. A. Krug. B. I. Ugrimov. and M. A. Shatelen. The commission was headed by G. M. Krzhizhanovskii. The Central Committee of the Communist Party and V. I. Lenin personally exercised continuous direction of the work of GOELRO and determined the basic provisions of the plan. By the end of 1920. the commission, after an enormous amount of work, had prepared the Plan for the Electrification of Russia, a volume of 650 pages of text with maps and diagrams for the electrification of the regions. In a speech at the Eighth All-Russian Congress of Soviets (December 1920), Lenin, having called GOELRO plan the second party program, proposed the formula: “Communism is Soviet power plus the electrification of the whole country” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 42, p. 159). The Eighth Congress unanimously approved the GOELRO plan. After discussion of the technical and economic questions at the Eighth Electrical Engineering Congress (October 1921), the plan was approved by the Sov-narkom (Council of People’s Commissars) on Dec. 21, 1921.

The GOELRO plan, which was designed for a period of 10–15 years, carried out Lenin’s ideas for electrification of the entire nation and creation of large-scale industry. In the area of the electric power system, the plan consisted of program A, designed for rebuilding and reconstructing the prewar electric power system, and program B, which envisaged the construction of 30 regional power plants (20 thermal and ten hydroelectric power plants). The total capacity of the 30 regional power plants was to be 1,750,000 kilowatts (kW). Plans were made to build large regional thermal power plants, such as the Shterovka, Kashira, Kizel, Gorky, Shatura, and Cheliabinsk plants. Local types of fuel (peat. Moscow and Urals coal, the screenings of Donets coal and shale) were to be used as the fuel base for the thermal power plants. The power plants were to be equipped with boilers and turbines large for those times.

One of the basic ideas of the plan was the broad use of the enormous hydropower resources of the nation. The plan envisaged the building of the Volkhov Hydroelectric Power Plant, the Dneprovskoe Hydroelectric Power Plant, two hydroelectric power plants on the Svir’ River, and other plants. The growth rate for the capacity of the power plants was intended to significantly outstrip the growth rate of industrial production. The plan was to bring the total annual output of electric power up to 8.8 billion kilowatt-hours (kW-hr), in comparison with the 1.9 billion kW-hr generated in Russia in 1913.

The plan envisaged a fundamental reconstruction of all the national economic sectors on the basis of electrification, the predominant growth of heavy industry, and the rational location of industry over the entire nation. The plan was worked out for eight basic economic regions (the Northern, Central Industrial, Southern, Volga, Urals, Western Siberian, Caucasus, and Turkestan), taking into account their natural, raw material, and energy resources, as well as specific national conditions. Over a period of ten to 15 years, industrial production was to increase 80–100 percent in comparison with the prerevolutionary level. Coal mining was to rise to 62.3 million tons per year, from the 29.2 million tons of 1913; oil was to rise to 11.8–16.4 million tons, from 10.3 million tons; peat production was to rise to 16.4 million tons, from 1.7 million tons; iron ore production was to rise to 19.6 million tons, from 9.2 million tons; and iron smelting was to rise to 8.2 million tons, from 4.2 million tons. Along with the complete reconstruction of transport, the major railway mainlines were to be electrified and extensive construction of new railways was to be started. Major projects were also outlined for mechanizing agricultural production, introducing chemical technology and progressive farming systems to agriculture, and developing irrigation and land reclamation.

The plan envisaged a rapid rise in labor productivity on the basis of the electrification and mechanization of all production processes and a fundamental change in working conditions.

The implementation of the GOELRO plan started under the difficult conditions of the Civil War and economic chaos. Through heroic labor, the pioneering stations were built: the Shatura and Kashira state regional electric power plants and the Volkhov Hydroelectric Power Plant. The GOELRO plan was fulfilled for the basic targets ahead of the minimum projected time (1931). Annual electric power output in the USSR reached 10.7 billion kW-hr, and the installed capacity of the regional power stations was 2,105,000 kW. By 1935 the GOELRO plan had been significantly overfulfilled for all the basic targets. The capacity of the regional power plants was 4.34 million kW in 1935, or 2.5 times more than envisioned by the GOELRO plan, and the total volume of industrial product had increased by 5.7 times over 1913. instead of the 1.8–2 times of the plan. The GOELRO plan was overfulfilled in terms of the extraction of coal, petroleum, peat, and iron and manganese ore, as well as for the production of iron and steel.

Since 1947 the USSR has held first place in Europe and second place in the world for the production of electric power. The USSR operates the world’s most powerful hydroelectric power stations (the Krasnoiarsk plant with a capacity of 5 million kW, the 50 Letie Velikogo Oktiabria Bratsk plant with 4.1 million kW, and the 22–i s”ezd KPSS Volga plant with 2.53 million kW) as well as the largest thermal power plants, with 2.4 million kW (including the Pridnepr, Kona-kovo, and Zmiev plants), and the longest high-voltage transmission lines, of 500 and 750 kilovolts (kV) of AC and 800 kV of DC. The United Power System of the European USSR has been formed and is the largest in the world. In 1970 the USSR produced 740 billion kW-hr of electric power, and the capacity of the power plants was 166 million kW, in comparison with 1.1 million kW in 1913.


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The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.