|Description of this FunctionDescription of this Function|
By 1880, companies such as the Victorian Electric Company and the Australian Electric Company (later incorporated into the Melbourne Electric Supply Company Limited VA 3966) were generating and supplying electric power, mainly for lighting, to small areas within the City of Melbourne. The same was also being done for specific areas or buildings by the Victorian Post-Master Generals Department and the Victorian Railways. Between 1892 and 1894, the Melbourne municipality developed an undertaking to light the streets in the city proper. Until 1896, there was no regulation or restriction on electric light and power undertakings.
In 1896 the Government passed the Electric Light and Power Act No 1413 which was designed to regulate the electricity industry. The Postmaster-General, the Board of Land and Works and the Victorian Railways were permitted to engage in electrical undertakings for Government purposes. All other works and suppliers required the authority of an Order-in-Council. Municipalities were to have the power to supply electricity for public and purposes. Undertakings by companies also required the consent of the municipal Council for undertakings in a municipality.
Orders-in-Council for non-municipal undertakings were valid for no more than 30 years with the undertaking being able to be purchased by the municipality at the end of that time. The Governor-in-Council might make regulations to secure public safety and Councils could make by-laws for the same purpose.
The Department of Public Works (VA 669) was given the responsibility of administering this Act.
By the end of 1899 the provision of electric light and power in the city area was undertaken by the Melbourne City Council. In other areas the generation and supply of electricity was undertaken by the Melbourne Electric Supply Company Limited (VA 3966) and other companies. By 1904 these had been joined by the North Melbourne Electric Tramways and Lighting Company Limited (VA 2974).
Electricity was also supplied in non-Metropolitan areas In 1891 the Nhill Electric Light Company established a small plant to serve the town of Nhill. The Melbourne Electric Supply Company established electric light and power undertakings in Geelong in 1901 with the Electric Supply Company of Victoria doing the same in Ballarat (1905) and Bendigo (1903). In 1905, companies inaugurated schemes in Hamilton, Inglewood and Kerang. Between 1907 and 1913 some 34 electric undertakings were established in country towns with 18 of them being municipal schemes.
Electric power was viewed by the Victorian Railways (VA 2876) as a means of reducing the dependency on coal, particularly for the Melbourne suburban system. The report of Charles Merz tabled in Parliament in 1908 recommended an electric suburban rail service with the suggestion of a powerhouse on the Morwell brown coalfield to supply Melbourne. The recommendation for the electrification of the suburban rail system was supported by the Royal Commission on the Railway and Tramways Systems of Melbourne and Suburbs in 1911 and in 1912 Parliament authorised this with work on the first Newport Power Station being commenced in 1913. Progress was interrupted by World War I and the first passenger carrying train ran in May 1919.
The Victorian Railways retained control of Newport A Power Station until 1951 and of the Newport B Power Station until 1939.
State Electricity Commission of Victoria (previously known as the Electricity Commissioners).
The Electricity Commissioners were constituted in 1919 under the provisions of the Electricity Commissioners Act 1918 (No.2996) and became the State Electricity Commission of Victoria (S.E.C.) under the provisions of the State Electricity Commission Act 1920 (No.3104).
The Electricity Commissioners assumed responsibility for the administration of the Electric Light and Power Act from the Public Works Department (VA 669).
The State Electricity Commission was required:
( to inquire into and report to the Government on the measures which should be taken to achieve the ultimate co-ordination and amalgamation of all electrical undertakings in Victoria, and to secure the efficient inter-connection of such undertakings by the adoption of necessary standards of plant and equipment and system frequency and pressure
( to encourage and promote the use of electricity for industrial and manufacturing purposes and to report to the Government on the prospects of establishing new industries requiring large quantities of electrical energy
( to carry out investigations to ascertain the extent of coal deposits or of water power suitable for use in connection with the generation of electricity
( to carry out investigations as to the safety and most economical means of improving the generation, distribution, supply and use of electricity throughout Victoria.
The Commission was vested with the following powers in relation to electrical undertakings;
( to construct, maintain and operate electrical undertakings
( to supply electricity in bulk to any statutory corporation or undertaking such as municipalities
( to supply electricity to any person outside any area in which there is an existing undertaking and to Government departments and institutions
( to carry on any business associated with an electrical undertaking
( to make regulations as to precautions to be adopted in the use of electricity and to arrange for the licensing of electric wiremen
( to develop brown coal mining and briquette manufacture
( to develop hydro-electric resources
( to register contractors, control installation methods and materials, and
( test and trade in approved electrical equipment and appliances.
Acquisition of Electrical Undertakings
The Commission gradually acquired a number of electrical undertakings previously owned by companies, municipalities and the Victorian Railways. Between 1922 and 1953 the Commission acquired control of the following undertakings:
( North Melbourne Tramways and Lighting Company in 1922
( Melbourne Electric Supply Company in 1930
( The Electric Supply Company of Victoria in 1934
( Newport B Power Station from Victorian Railways in 1939
( Melbourne City Council Spencer Street Power Station in 1941
( Newport A Power Station from Victorian Railways in 1951
( Mildura Electrical Undertaking in 1953
The S.E.C. continued to provide bulk supply electricity to certain metropolitan municipalities which then supplied their customers.
The Electricity Industry Act 1993 commenced the restructuring of the State Electricity Commission of Victoria with its disaggregation into three statutory business undertakings with independent chairmen. These were:
Generation Victoria the production of power to meet the energy requirements of the system.
National Electricity (further reconstituted as PowerNet Victoria by the Electricity Industry (Amendments) Act 1994) high voltage transmission, the balancing of supply and demand and for security of supply across the system.
Electricity Services Victoria low voltage distribution and the sale of electricity to retail customers.
The Office of the Administrator was established by the same Act to oversee this restructuring and continues (as at January 2001) to be responsible for all residual rights and obligations of the SECV not allocated to the disaggregated electricity entities.
In 1994, the Electricity Industry (Amendments) Act abolished Electricity Services Victoria. This Act also provided for the transfer of remaining municipal electricity undertakings to the distribution companies formed from Electricity Services Victoria.
The Victorian Power Exchange was created as a public authority to coordinate generation, transmission and distribution facilities. Under further amendments to the Electricity Industry Act in 1997 it became part of VENCorp (Victorian Energy Networks Corporation). VENCorp is responsible for procuring bulk electricity services from network owners under long-term contracts, planning and directing the augmentation of the shared electricity transmission network and managing electricity emergencies.
Both Electricity Services Victoria (October 1994) and Generation Victoria (January 1995) were further disaggregated into five independent companies each. The Electricity Industry (Amendments) Act 1995 allowed the Treasurer to provide for the sale or disposal of shares in these companies with these companies being subsequently sold to interests.
The passing of the Electricity Industry (Loy Yang B) Act 1997 facilitated the sale of that power station. In 1998, further amendments to the Electricity Industry Act 1993 abolished PowerNet and repealed the State Electricity Commission Act 1958.
The Office of the Regulator-General, established by the Office of the Regulator-General Act 1994, remains responsible for the oversight of licences relating to the electricity industry and for charges and tariffs.
Electric Light and Power Act 1896
Electricity Industry Act 1993
Electricity Industry (Amendment) Act 1996
Electricity Industry (Further Amendment) Act 1996
Electriciyt Industry (Miscellaneous Amendment) Act 1997
Electricity Industry (Further Miscellaneous Amendment) Act 1997
Electricity Industry (Amendment) Act 1998
Electricity Industry Acts (Amendment) Act 1998
Electricity Industry (Loy Yang B) Act 1997
Victorian Year Book 1973
State Electricity Commission of Victoria Annual Report 1993 1994
State Electricity Commission of Victoria Annual Report 1993 1994
Edwards, Cecil Brown Power: A Jubilee History of the State Electricity Commission of Victoria, State Electricity Commission, Melbourne, 1969.
Lincolne, Gerald B Electricity Supply in Victoria, State Electricity Commission of Victoria.