|Description of this FunctionDescription of this Function|
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 financed its capital works program and met 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 supplied 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 1920's. 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.
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. These disaggregated entities were further disaggregated and sold to owners. The State Electricity Commission Act 1958 was repealed by further amendments to the Electricity Industry Act in 1998.