Agency VA 1002
State Electricity Commission of Victoria I (previously known as the Electricity Commissioners)
About this Agency Records Related Functions Related Agencies
Date Range: 1919 - 1994
Description of this AgencyDescription of this Agency

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.

Hydro-Electric Schemes

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
* Licensing
* Market conditions; and
* Other economic regulatory matters.

Ministerial Responsibility

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, Melbourne, 1969.

Location of Records

See List of Holdings 2nd edition 1985, section 3.13.6 and list below.

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Date Range Series Title Series Number Series Location Public Access
? 1896 - 1922 Electrical Supply Undertakings Correspondence Files VPRS 9671 North Melbourne Open
? 1919 - ? 1971 Inward Correspondence Register, Annual Single Number Sequence VPRS 8893 North Melbourne Open
? 1919 - ? 1985 Photographic Images, Prints, Subject Headings, PB and EE prefix, SECV 11, 28, 33, 34, 35, 38, 39, 40, 42, 47, 48, 53, 55, 70 VPRS 15785 North Melbourne Open
? 1919 - ? 1989 Photographic Images, Film and Glass Plate Negatives, Power Stations, SECV 19, 61, 63, 67, 71 VPRS 15783 North Melbourne Closed
? 1919 - 1993 Filing Classification Indexes, Lists and Registers, Various Departments VPRS 13874 North Melbourne Open
? 1920 - ? 1970 Photographic Images, Film Negatives, Single Number, within each subject heading, SECV 13 VPRS 15780 North Melbourne Open
? 1921 - ? 1954 Coal Production Division Morwell Project Rail Turnouts - Plans and Blueprints VPRS 6634 North Melbourne Open
? 1922 - ? 1989 Photographic Images, Film and Glass Negatives, Subject Headings, SECV 9, 13, 24, 31, 32, 54, 57, 59, 65, 68, 69, 72 VPRS 15777 North Melbourne Part Open
? 1936 - ? 1968 Official Histories: Research Papers and Records VPRS 9935 North Melbourne Open
? 1940 - ? 1950 Photographic Images, Prints, K prefix, Kiewa Operations, SECV 27, 66 VPRS 15772 North Melbourne Open
? 1948 - ? 1970 Subject Index to Photographic Images, Single Number, PB and EE prefix, SECV 3 and SECV 26 VPRS 15771 North Melbourne Open
? 1949 - ? 2000 Public Relations Films and Tapes VPRS 5061 North Melbourne Open
? 1950 - ? 1950 Kiewa Scheme Plans VPRS 6635 North Melbourne Open
? 1950 - 1994 Subject Indexes to Correspondence Files VPRS 8895 North Melbourne Open
? 1954 - ? 1985 Personal Papers of Charles Trethowan VPRS 9956 North Melbourne Closed
? 1961 - ? 1979 Photographic Images, Film Negatives, Briquette Sale, Single Number, PBF prefix, (SECV 36) VPRS 15781 North Melbourne Open
? 1970 - ? 1989 Photographic Images,Transparencies and Glass Plates, SECV 29, 41, 56, 58 and 75 VPRS 15779 North Melbourne Part Open
? 1973 - ? 1983 Rolled Plans, SECV 10 VPRS 15778 North Melbourne Open
? 1974 - 1987 Register of Photographic Images, Technical Photographs, Single Number, AB, EE and MEE prefix, SECV 7 VPRS 15775 North Melbourne Open
? 1978 - 1991 Subject Files, Annual Single Number Sequence (Personnel Department) VPRS 8916 North Melbourne Open
Functions for which this Agency has or has had primary responsibilityFunctions for which this Agency has or has had primary responsibility
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Date of Responsibility Function Title Function Number
1930 - 1994 Electric light and power VF 47
1939 - 1994 Power station newport b VF 146
1951 - 1994 Power station newport a VF 147
Functions for which this Agency has or has had secondary responsibilityFunctions for which this Agency has or has had secondary responsibility
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Superior AgenciesSuperior Agencies
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Date of Relationship Agency Title Agency Number
1934 - 1994 State Electricity Commission, Mid-Western Supply Region VA 2740
1964 - 1994 Herman Research Laboratory VA 4605
1991 - Circa 1994 Everton Dell Pty Ltd VA 4112
1993 - 1994 Loy Yang B Power Station Pty Ltd (also known as LYBCO) VA 4111
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Date of Relationship Group Title Group Number
1919 - 1927 Law VRG 19
1927 - 1985 Minerals and Energy VRG 47
1985 - 1990 Industry, Technology and Resources VRG 82
1990 - 1992 Manufacturing and Industry Development VRG 97
1992 - 1994 Energy and Minerals VRG 102