History of electricity supply in Queensland
Queensland being Australia's second largest state in terms of physical area (Western Australia is the largest), achieving the early leaders' dream of providing electricity to every home entailed a considerable degree of pioneering, innovation, and commitment. Generation and limited distribution was initially the responsibility of local authorities. A central state-based authority to coordinate the generation and distribution of electrical power was not established until 1938.In the late 1990s the electricity sector was restructured to enable integration with the National Electricity Market.
History of electricity supply in Queensland Queensland being Australia's second largest state in terms of physical area (Western Australia is the largest), achieving the early leaders' dream of providing electricity to every home entailed a considerable degree of pioneering, innovation, and commitment. Generation and limited distribution was initially the responsibility of local authorities. A central state-based authority to coordinate the generation and distribution of electrical power was not established until 1938. In the late 1990s the electricity sector was restructured to enable integration with the National Electricity Market. Contents Local authority Initially, the many local authorities raised funds, and provided supply for their own areas in whatever way they could. A number of coal mine in the Ipswich district were generating electricity by the early 1900s. In far western Thargomindah, late in the 19th century, the civic fathers set up the first natural gas powered generating station in the world. Electricity for lighting was also generated from the pressure of artesian water bores.The use of bore water at Thargomindah has been described as Australia's first hydro-electricity scheme and operated until 1951. Later, in Dalby, on the Darling Downs a much larger suction gas engine was installed in a power house by Myall Creek to supply the town. Other local authorities, one by one, set up generation stations using various types of diesel engines. The station in Tara used horizontal single cylinder heavy diesel fuel engines with drip lubrication. Others used more familiar types. The power station in Roma was first set up using Ruston & Hornsby and Blackstone and Mirrlees 12 and 16 cylinder diesel engines. As demand grew, a turbine modified from a 707 jet engine was installed to supplement peak load. When the Roma gas fields were developed, all these engines were modified to run on dual fuel. When the gas flow was insufficient for the engines' needs, they ran on natural gas, but when the flow faltered, as it often did, the engines would automatically convert to burning diesel distillate. In 1928, the New Farm Powerhouse (now known as the Brisbane Powerhouse) became operational. It was owned by the Brisbane City Council until it was sold in 1963 to the Southern Electricity Authority and then decommissioned in 1971. In the major metropolitan areas of Brisbane, Gold Coast and Toowoomba, private companies provided supply and this continued into the 1950s. But the State Government then took a hand, dividing responsibility for electricity supply for the state amongst three Electricity Supply Authorities, Southern, Central and Northern. These basically covered the high population areas of the east coast, leaving supply in the west in the hands of the various local councils. Southern Electricity Authority of Queensland The Government of Queensland decided that there should be one electrical authority for South East Queensland in 1961. The Southern Electricity Authority of Queensland (SEAQ), absorbed not only the City Electric Light and Power Company which supplied Brisbane and the Gold Coast, but also Toowoomba Electric Light and Power Company, which also covered some areas west of the Great Dividing Range. The new authority was considered a major step forward in electrical progress. Its establishment prepared the way forward for future amalgamation of power supply in South East Queensland. A new order commenced with the Electricity Act of 1976, under which a series of regional Electricity Boards were set up replacing the three Electricity Authorities from 1 July 1977. These Boards were under the umbrella of the State Electricity Commission of Queensland, which assumed the major generation and transmission responsibilities in 1938 after the Queensland Government's Royal Commission on Generation and Distribution of Electric Power in Queensland, 1936 was conducted to review electricity supply in the state.Governing Board members this time included State Government representative members, local councillors, and prominent business people. Under this new set-up, responsibility for electricity distribution from the ranges east of Toowoomba to the South Australian border was given to the South West Queensland Electricity Board (SWQEB), and the eight separate local council power stations were handed over to the Board's control. In 1945, the South East Queensland Electricity Board (SEQEB), Wide Bay-Burnett Electricity Board, Capricornia Electricity Board, Mackay Electricity Board, North Queensland Electricity Board, Far North Queensland Electricity Board were also established to distribute electricity in their respective regions. This marked the first attempt to coordinate electricity supply outside of South East Queensland. A single-wire earth return power line near Emerald, 2007 During this time the effort to supply remote properties led to the pioneering of a different means of supply – Single-wire earth return (SWER) lines were set up reaching many thousands of miles and many hundreds of outlying properties with reliable electricity supplies for the first time. Because of the de- centralisation of government departments in Queensland, the headquarters for the SWQEB was establised at Dalby, with that region's power house, operating systems, and customer billing taken over immediately. The electricity facilities of the seven surrounding council areas were gradually absorbed, but meter reading and customer billing in each of these continued for some time as local operations. Customer billing for the area covered by the SWQEB that was formerly within the SEAQ was administered on a bureau basis by SEQEB, which was based in Brisbane.