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).
Powers and Functions of the S.E.C.
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.
The Commission was a self supporting business which finances its capital works program and meets its operating expenses solely through revenue received from its customers and repayable loans.
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 supply their customers.
In 1930 the S.E.C. acquired the Geelong Tramways from the Melbourne Electric Supply Company and in 1934 the Commission acquired the Ballarat and Bendigo Tramways from the Electric Supply Company of Victoria. The Commission continued to operate these tramways until 1956 and 1971\2 respectively.
Brown Coal Mining
In 1917 the Government had appointed a Brown Coal Advisory Committee to investigate and report on the commercial utilization of brown coal with particular reference to the generation of electricity. In their annual report of 30 June 1920, the Commissioners reported that land had been acquired near Morwell and that progress had been made on the development of brown coal mining. By 1921 open cut mining operations had commenced and by 1924 electricity was being generated from the Yallourn Power Station and supplied to Melbourne.
As part of its development of brown coal resources, the S.E.C. began building the township of Yallourn in the 1920s. The Commission administered the town alone until 1947 when a Town Advisory Council was established. In 1968 the S.E.C. decided to demolish the town to make way for further mining and, despite opposition, by 1982\3 the demolition was complete.
One of the initial responsibilities of the Electricity Commissioners was to report on the feasibility of using water power for the generation of electricity. Government approval for the Sugarloaf-Rubicon Scheme was given in 1922 and the Rubicon and Mt Sugarloaf hydro-electric stations were in service by 1928 and 1929 and the Eildon station by 1956. Work on the Kiewa Scheme was not commenced until 1939 and the first power station was in operation by 1944. A Commonwealth-State Conference on the use of the Snowy River was convened in 1946 and subsequently the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Authority was established in 1949. The Snowy Mountain Hydro-Electric Agreements were ratified by Parliament in 1958 and electricity from the Snowy Scheme was first transmitted to Victoria in 1959.
Restructuring of the Victorian Electricity Industry
In 1993-1994 the State Electricity Commission of Victoria was disaggregated into three entities, covering mining and generation; transmission and system security; and distribution and retailing.
The Electricity Industry Act 1993 (No. 130/1993) was the basis for implementing the government's objectives with regard to the structure and regulation of the Victorian electricity industry.
Under the provision of the Electricity Industry Act 1993, the following three electricity corporations were established:
1. Generation Victoria (GV)
2. National Electricity (NE)
3. Electricity Services Victoria (ESV)
1. Generation Victoria:
The Act defined the functions of Generation Victoria as:
* To undertake the generation and supply of electricity
* To explore for, mine, produce and supply coal, gas and other raw products used in the generation of electricity
* To acquire and trade in electricity, coal, gas and other raw products used in the generation of electricity
* To undertake the construction and operation of power stations
* To carry out research and development relating to the performance of the functions
* To provide services, including management services, in the coal, gas and electricity generation industries.
2. National Electricity:
The Act defined the functions of National Electricity as:
* To provide for the transmission of electricity in Victoria
* To plan, operate, and maintain the electricity transmission system for Victoria
National Electricity may:
* Coordinate the operation of the generation, transmission and distribution facilities of the Victorian electricity supply system
* Acquire and trade in electricity
* Operate and administer the market for the wholesale trading of electricity
* Operate, manage and maintain hydro-electric power stations; and
* Undertake the transmission of electricity outside Victoria
3. Electricity Services Victoria (ESV):
Functions and powers of ESV as defined by the Act were:
* To acquire, distribute and supply electricity
* To provide services, including management services in connection with the distribution and supply of electricity
* To carry on the business of trading in electrical apparatus
The functions of the Administrator of the SECV II (VA 4086) established under the Electricity Industry Act were:
* To administer the residual functions and powers not conferred on any other bodies defined in the relevant Acts
* To make rules for, or with respect to, trading in electricity, as between two or more of the Electricity Corporations, the SEC and the proclaimed bodies.
The Office of the Chief Electrical Inspector (VA 4207) was also created as a separate entity under the Electricity Industry Act.
Further changes to the structure (1994)
An independent distribution company, PoolCo (Victorian Power Exchange), was established to monitor and control the wholesale electricity market and ensure the security of the supply system. The Company was granted the wholesale electricity market licence.
Power Net Victoria, a transmission grid company which owned, maintained and managed the high voltage grid, was granted the transmission licence by the Regulator General under sections 162 and 168 of the Electricity Industry Act 1993.
Generation Victoria, an interim structure, was reviewed and restructured into five independent generating companies. Hazelwood Power Corporation Pty Ltd comprised the Hazlewood power station and the Morewell brown coal mine; Loy Yang Power Pty Ltd comprised the Loy Yang A power station and the Loy Yang mine; Southern Hydro Pty Ltd covered hydro power stations at Kiewa, Dartmouth, Eildon/Rubicon and Cairn Curran; and Yallourn Energy Pty Ltd comprised Yallourn W power station and the Yallourn mine. In the interim, Generation Victoria was to continue and to be responsible for the gas-powered power stations.
Electricity Services Victoria was also further divided into five companies, each responsible for the customer service for one of five regions: Eastern, Western and three Metropolitan regions. Distribution and retail licences were issued to Eastern Energy Ltd, Citipower Ltd, Solaris Power Ltd, United Energy Ltd and Powercor Australia Ltd.
The Office of the Regulator General Act 1994 (No. 42/1994) established the Office as an independent regulator of the electricity and other industries: to protect and consumer, monitor and maintain the integrity of supply and ensure the market operated fairly. The Office exercised its regulatory powers with respect to:
* Standards and condition of service and supply
* Market conditions; and
* Other economic regulatory matters.
The Ministers responsible for the State Electricity Commission were:
Attorney General 1919-1927
Minister in Charge of Electrical Undertakings 1927-1955
Minister of Electrical Undertakings 1955-1965
Minister of Fuel and Power 1965-1977
Minister for Minerals and Energy 1977-1985
Minister for Industry, Technology and Resources 1985-1992
Minister for Energy and Minerals 1992-1993
From at least 1965-1993, there was a Department of State responsible for co-ordination of and liaison with the major energy agencies including the State Electricity Commission and the Gas and Fuel Corporation (VA 1040) The Departments responsible since 1965 have been:
Ministry of Fuel and Power (VA 627) 1965-1977,
Department of Minerals and Energy (VA 611) 1977-1985,
Department of Industry, Technology and Resources (VA 2661) 1985-1992,
Department of Energy and Minerals (VA 3035) 1992-1995,
Department of Agriculture, Energy and Minerals (VA 3744) 1995-1996
Official History of State Electricity Commission of Victoria
An official history of the Commission was published in 1969:
EDWARDS, Cecil. Brown Power: A Jubilee History of the State Electricity Commission of Victoria, State Electricity Commission, ... truncated