Timeline of the UK electricity supply industry

The following is a list of major events in the history of the electricity sector in the United Kingdom.

Year Event
1882 The Electric Lighting Act 1882 (repealed 1989) — allowed the setting up of supply systems by persons, companies or local authorities.
1882 The Edison Electric Light Station world's first coal power station opened producing 110 volt DC and was used for street lighting. It ran at a loss and soon closed.
1888 The Electric Lighting Act 1888 (repealed 1989) — amendment to 1882 Act making the setting up of a supply company easier.
1891 London Electric Supply Corporation (LESCo) opened Deptford Power Station, UK's first (single phase) AC power system, designed by Sebastian Ziani de Ferranti.
1899 The Electric Lighting (Clauses) Act 1899 (repealed 1989)
1901 Newcastle upon Tyne Electric Supply Company (NESCo) opened Neptune Bank Power Station, the first in the UK to supply three-phase electric power.
1909 The Electric Lighting Act 1909 (repealed 1989). Regulated planning consent for building power stations.
1919 Williamson Report and Birchenough Report leads to the Electricity (Supply) Act 1919[1](repealed 1989). Established Electricity Commission and appointed Electricity Commissioners
1922 The Electricity (Supply) Act 1922 (repealed 1989)
1926 Weir Report leads to the Electricity (Supply) Act 1926 (repealed 1989) — created Central Electricity Board and the National Grid operating at 132 kV (50 Hz)
1933 The 132 kV National Grid started operating as interconnected set of regional grids.
1936 The Electricity Supply (Meters) Act 1936 (repealed 1989)
1938 The 132 kV National Grid became integrated.
1943 The Hydro-Electric Development (Scotland) Act 1943 (repealed 1989)
1947 The Electricity Act 1947 (repealed 1989). It merged 625 electricity companies to be vested in twelve area electricity boards and the generation and 132 kV National Grid were vested with the British Electricity Authority.
1954 The Electricity Reorganisation (Scotland) Act 1954 (repealed 1989)
1955 British Electricity Authority becomes the Central Electricity Authority. The Scottish area boards are merged into South of Scotland Electricity Board and the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board.
1957 The Electricity Act 1957 (repealed 1989). The Central Electricity Authority was dissolved and replaced by Central Electricity Generating Board and the Electricity Council.
1958 The new chairman of the Central Electricity Generating Board Christopher Hinton, Baron Hinton of Bankside begins the procurement of the new 2000 MW power stations and 400kV grid system known as the Hinton Heavies
1961 The Electricity (Amendment) Act 1961 (repealed 1989)
1963 The Electricity and Gas Act 1963 (repealed 1989)
1965 Introduction of the first phase of the 400kV Supergrid from West Burton power stations, Nottinghamshire to Sundon in Bedfordshire
1968 The Gas and Electricity Act 1968 (repealed 1989)
1969 The first of the new 2000 MW Generating Units are officially opened by the Ministry of Power (United Kingdom) Roy Mason at West Burton power stations
1972 The Electricity Act 1972 (repealed 1989)
1978 Economy 7 introduced.
1979 The Electricity (Scotland) Act 1979 (repealed 1989)
1983 The Energy Act 1983 — allowing small scale private generators.[2]
1988 UK accepts EC’s Large Combustion Plant Directive to address environmental damage from acid rain.[2]
1989 The Electricity Act 1989 provided for the privatisation of the electricity industry, and introduced the Fossil Fuel Levy to support the nuclear power industry.[2]
1990 Beginning of the privatization of the Central Electricity Generating Board. The assets of the CEGB are broken up into three new companies: Powergen, National Power and National Grid Company. Later, the nuclear component within National Power was removed and vested in another state-owned company called Nuclear Electric.
1991 Scottish industry privatised
1992 Electricity supply in Northern Ireland privatised. Premier Power formed.
1993 Supply industry in Northern Ireland privatised.
1994 Value-added tax (VAT) ay 8% imposed on domestic energy.[2]
1995 Major assets of Nuclear Electric and Scottish Nuclear were merged the UK's eight most advanced nuclear plants, forming a new private company, British Energy.
1997 Pembroke Power Station closes the first of the 500MW Hinton Heavies
2000 The Utilities Act 2000 placed responsibility on generators to allow for connecting distributed energy sources to grid.
2001 The Central Electricity Generating Board (Dissolution) Order 2001.[3] CEGB formally wound up.
2007 From 1 November Northern Ireland generators must sell their electricity into the Single Electricity Market, an all-island market with the Republic of Ireland from which suppliers purchase electricity at a single market rate.
2009 After becoming the UK's largest electricity generation company, British Energy is bought by Électricité de France (EDF), a state owned company.[4]
2012 Kingsnorth Power Station ceases generation on 17 December 2012 the next Hinton Heavy to face closure
2013 Didcot Power Station ceases generation on 22 March 2013
2013 Fawley Power Station closes on 31 March 2013
2015 Ironbridge Power Station is switched off on 20 November 2015
2016 Ferrybridge Power Station closes on 31 March 2016
2016 Rugeley Power Station closes
2018 Eggborough Power Station stops generating on 23 March 2018 the latest of the Hinton Heavies to face closure

See also


  1. ^ Page 41 "Electricity Supply in the UK: A chronology"The Electricity Council, 1987, ISBN 0-85188-105-X
  2. ^ a b c d Peter Pearson; Jim Watson (2012). UK Energy Policy 1980-2010 (PDF) (Report). The Parliamentary Group for Energy Studies. ISBN 978-1-84919-580-5. Retrieved 27 January 2019.
  3. ^ Central Electricity Generating Board (Dissolution) Order (2001)
  4. ^ "Électricité de France agrees to pay $23 billion for British Energy". 24 September 2008. Retrieved 19 April 2018 – via NYTimes.com.


Blyth Power Station

Blyth Power Station (also known as Cambois Power Station) refers to a pair of now demolished coal-fired power stations, which were located on the Northumberland coast in North East England. The two stations were built alongside each other on a site near Cambois in Northumberland, on the northern bank of the River Blyth, between its tidal estuary and the North Sea. The stations took their name from the town of Blyth on the opposite bank of the estuary. Blyth A Power Station was built and opened first but had a smaller generating capacity than its sister station, Blyth B Power Station, which was built to its west four years later. The power stations' four large chimneys were a landmark of the Northumberland skyline for over 40 years; the A Station's two chimneys each stood at 140 metres (460 ft); the B Station's two chimneys were taller, at 170 metres (560 ft) each.

Construction of the B Station began shortly after the A station was completed. The stations were built during a period in which there were great advances in power station technology, and in the scale of production, which led to them having a variety of intermediate generator set sizes along with a mix of design styles. Blyth A had a generating capacity of 480 megawatts (MW) and the B Station 1,250 MW. Their combined capacity of 1,730 MW briefly made Blyth Power Station the largest electricity generation site in England, until Ferrybridge C Power Station came into full operation in 1966. The stations were capable of generating enough electricity to power 300,000 homes.The A Station first generated electricity in 1958, a year after the creation of the Central Electricity Generating Board, and the stations operated until 2001. They were operated by the successors of the CEGB, including National Power, following the privatisation of the UK's power industry. After their closure in 2001, the stations were demolished over the course of two years, ending with the demolition of the stations' chimneys on 7 December 2003. As of 2009, the site is still covered in debris from the demolition. RWE Npower have proposed the construction of a clean coal-fired power station on the site. However, as of November 2009, these plans have been postponed.

British Electricity Authority

The British Electricity Authority (BEA) was established as the central British electricity authority in 1948 under the nationalisation of Great Britain's electricity supply industry following the Electricity Act 1947. The Authority took over the operations of over 600 small public supply power companies, municipal authority electricity departments and the Central Electricity Board to form the BEA, which comprised a central authority and 14 area boards. The BEA was responsible for the generation, distribution and sale of electricity to users, and its duty was to develop and maintain an efficient, coordinated and economical system of electricity supply. Its scope did not include control of the North of Scotland Hydro Board, which remained independent of the BEA.

Central Electricity Authority

The Central Electricity Authority (CEA) was a body that ran the electricity supply industry in England and Wales between 1954 and 1957. The CEA replaced the earlier British Electricity Authority (BEA) as a result of the Electricity Reorganisation (Scotland) Act 1954, which moved responsibility for Scottish electricity supply to the Scottish Office.

The CEA was in turn dissolved by the Electricity Act 1957 and replaced by the Central Electricity Generating Board and the Electricity Council.

Central Electricity Generating Board

The Central Electricity Generating Board (CEGB) was responsible for electricity generation in England and Wales for almost forty years, from 1957 to privatisation in the 1990s.Because of its origins in the immediate post-war period, when electricity demand grew rapidly but plant and fuel availability was often unreliable, most of the industry saw its mission as to provide an adequate and secure electricity supply, or "to keep the lights on" as they put it, rather than pursuing the cheapest generation route.

It was created in 1957 from the Central Electricity Authority, which had replaced the British Electricity Authority. The Electricity Council was also created at that time, as a policy-making body for the electricity supply industry.

City of London Electric Lighting Company Limited

The City of London Electric Lighting Company Limited was a British electricity undertaking. It was formed in July 1891 to generate and supply electricity to the City of London and part of north Southwark. It owned and operated Bankside power station on the south bank of the river Thames. The company provided and stimulated demand for electricity, increased its generating capacity, and competed and co-operated with other electricity undertakings in London. The company was dissolved on 1 April 1948 when the British electricity industry was nationalised.

Drax Power Station

Drax power station is a large biomass and coal-fired power station in North Yorkshire, England, capable of co-firing petcoke. It has a 2.6 GW capacity for biomass and 1.29 GW capacity for coal. Its name comes from the nearby village of Drax. It is situated on the River Ouse between Selby and Goole. Its generating capacity of 3,906 megawatts (MW) is the highest of any power station in the United Kingdom, providing about 6% of the United Kingdom's electricity supply.Opened in 1973 and extended in the mid-1980s, the station was initially operated by the Central Electricity Generating Board. Since privatisation in 1990 ownership has changed several times, and it is operated by the Drax Group. Completed in 1986, it is the newest coal-fired power station in England, flue gas desulphurisation equipment was fitted between 1988 and 1995; high and low pressure turbines were replaced between 2007 and 2012.

By 2010, the station was co-firing biomass. In 2012, the company announced plans to convert three generating units to solely biomass, burning 7.5 million tonnes imported from the United States and Canada. This work was completed in 2016 and a further fourth unit was converted in 2018. The company now plans to convert its remaining two coal units to 3.6 GW closed-cycle gas turbine units and 200 MW battery storage.

Dunston Power Station

Sometimes confused with the nearby Stella power stations.Dunston Power Station refers to a pair of adjacent coal-fired power stations in the North East of England, now demolished. They were built on the south bank of the River Tyne, in the western outskirts of Dunston in Gateshead. The two stations were built on a site which is now occupied by the MetroCentre. The first power station built on the site was known as Dunston A Power Station, and the second, which gradually replaced it between 1933 and 1950, was known as Dunston B Power Station. The A Station was, in its time, one of the largest in the country, and as well as burning coal had early open cycle gas turbine units. The B Station was the first of a new power station design, and stood as a landmark in the Tyne for over 50 years. From the A Station's opening in 1910 until the B Station's demolition in 1986, they collectively operated from the early days of electricity generation in the United Kingdom, through the industry's nationalisation, and until a decade before its privatisation.

Dunston A had a generating capacity of 48.85 megawatts (MW) in 1955, and Dunston B had a generating capacity of 300 MW. Electricity from the stations powered an area covering Northumberland, County Durham, Cumberland, Yorkshire and as far north as Galashiels in Scotland.

Electricity Act 1957

The Electricity Act 1957 (repealed 1989) was an Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom. The principal impact of the Act was the dissolution of the Central Electricity Authority (UK), which it replaced with the Central Electricity Generating Board (CEGB) and the Electricity Council.The Electricity Act 1947, which nationalised the industry, set up the British Electricity Authority (BEA) and 14 Area Boards; it also established a Consultative Council for each of the Area Boards. Two of the Area Boards served the south of Scotland. These were formed, together with the BEA's generation activities in the region, into the South of Scotland Electricity Board (SSEB) by the Electricity Reorganisation (Scotland) Act 1954, under which the BEA was renamed the Central Electricity Authority. The north of Scotland has been served since 1943 by the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board (NSHEB).

The principal innovation of the Electricity Act 1957 was the Electricity Council; however, this Act also turned the Central Electricity Authority into the Central Electricity Generating Board (CEGB).

The statutory bodies created by it had the following key responsibilities:

The CEGB was required to develop and maintain an efficient, co-ordinated and economical system of supply of electricity in bulk to all parts of England and Wales. To this end it generated electricity and transmitted it, through the high voltage power lines and cables of its national grid, to Area Boards and direct to a few large industrial users;

the 12 Area Boards in England and Wales (as created by the Electricity Act 1947) bought bulk supplies of electricity from the CEGB and distributed it to consumers in their area;

the Electricity Council, the co-ordinating body of the electricity supply industry, advised the Secretary of State on matters affecting the industry, and promoted and assisted the development and maintenance by the CEGB and Area Boards of an efficient, co-ordinated and economical system of electricity supply;

the 12 Electricity Consultative Councils represented the interests of consumers in their area, and monitored the Area Boards' standards of service; and

the Electricity Consumers' Council represented consumer interests at the national level, and could make representations concerning them to the ESI and to the Secretary of State. It had to be informed by the Electricity Council of the general plans and arrangements of both the Electricity Council and the CEGB, and, in particular, of any proposal by the CEGB to vary a tariff.

Electricity Act 1989

The Electricity Act 1989 provided for the privatisation of the electricity supply industry in Great Britain, replacing the Central Electricity Generating Board in England and Wales and in Scotland by the South of Scotland Electricity Board and the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board. The Act also established a licensing regime and a regulator for the industry called the Office of Electricity Regulation (OFFER), which has since become the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (OFGEM).

Electricity Commissioners

The Electricity Commissioners were a department of the United Kingdom government's Ministry of Transport, and attempted to regulate the electricity supply industry in its early days.

In 1917, the UK government was planning the reconstruction of the nation's industries after the First World War. The Board of Trade set up the Electric Power Supply Committee, chaired by Sir Archibald Williamson, which proposed the effective nationalisation of the industry.

Subsequently, in 1919 under the chairmanship of Sir Henry Birchenough, the Advisory Council to the Ministry of Reconstruction produced the Report of the Committee of Chairmen on Electric Power Supply. The committee were asked to submit general comments or suggestions on the broad administrative and commercial issues which had arisen out of the Williamson Report. The Birchenough Committee generally agreed with the Williamson Report but recommended that generation and transmission should be a single unified system with a state regulation and finance and that means should be found for including distribution as well. This recommendation was very far sighted but considered to ambitious for general acceptance at the time and was ignored. If acted upon it would have anticipated the Electricity Act 1947 by 28 years.Parliament rejected what would have been the effective nationalisation of the industry but enacted the two committee's recommendations in a weaker form, including the setting up of an Electricity Commission and a number of joint electricity authorities formed by the electricity suppliers in each area.

The Electricity (Supply) Act 1919, was based essentially on the Williamson and Birchenough reports and introduced central co-ordination by establishing the Electricity Commissioners, an official body responsible for securing reorganisation on a regional basis.

London and Home Counties Joint Electricity Authority

North West Midlands Joint Electricity Authority

West Joint Electricity Authority

West Midlands Joint Electricity Authority

North Wales & South Cheshire Joint Electricity Authority

etc.The commission continued to exist for some years after nationalisation, and finally closed in 1953.

Electricity Council

The Electricity Council was a governmental body set up in 1957 to oversee the electricity supply industry in England and Wales. The Council's responsibilities included:

advising the Secretary of State for Energy on matters relating to the electricity supply industry in England and Wales

helping the Electricity Boards in England and Wales to improve efficiency

advising on the financing of the industry in England and Wales

organising certain research

maintaining the industry-wide industrial relations machineryThe Council was formally wound up by The Electricity Council (Dissolution) Order 2001, made under the Electricity Act 1989, to be replaced by the Electricity Association.

Energy policy of the United Kingdom

The current energy policy of the United Kingdom is set out in the Energy White Paper of May 2007 and Low Carbon Transition Plan of July 2009, building on previous work including the 2003 Energy White Paper and the Energy Review Report in 2006. It was led by the Department of Energy and Climate Change, then headed by Amber Rudd (the DECC was disbanded on 14 July 2016). The current focus of policy are on reforming the electricity market, rolling out smart meters and improving the energy efficiency of the UK building stock through the Green Deal.

Northampton Power Station

Northampton Power Station (also known as Nunn Mills Power Station) was an electricity generating station in Northampton, Northamptonshire, England, which began operation for the Northampton Electric Light and Power Company (NELPC) in the 1920s and generated power until closure in 1975.

The redundant power station buildings were used as a grain starage facility in the late 70s. Using both the road and rail facilities on site for transportation of grain.

The power station was finally demolished in around 2015 to make way for the relocation of the Northampton University close to the town centre. This is likely to be completed by about 2018.

Padiham Power Station

Padiham Power Station was a coal-fired power station in Padiham, east Lancashire, England, which began operation in 1926 and generated power from 1927 till it was closed in 1993.

Stella power stations

The Stella power stations were a pair of now-demolished coal-fired power stations in the North East of England that were a landmark in the Tyne valley for over 40 years. The stations stood on either side of a bend of the River Tyne: Stella South power station, the larger, near Blaydon in Gateshead, and Stella North power station near Lemington in Newcastle. Their name originated from the nearby Stella Hall, a manor house close to Stella South that by the time of their construction had been demolished and replaced by a housing estate. They operated from shortly after the nationalisation of the British electrical supply industry until two years after the Electricity Act of 1989, when the industry passed into the private sector.

These sister stations were of similar design and were built, opened, and closed together. Stella South, with a generating capacity of 300 megawatts (MW), was built on the site of the Blaydon Races, and Stella North, with a capacity of 240 MW, on that of the former Lemington Hall. They powered local homes and the many heavy industries of Tyne and Wear, Northumberland and County Durham. The large buildings, chimneys and cooling towers were visible from afar. Their operation required coal trains on both sides of the river to supply them with fuel and river traffic by flat iron barges to dump ash in the North Sea. After their closure in 1991, they were demolished in stages between 1992 and 1997. Following the stations' demolition, the sites underwent redevelopment: the North site into a large business and industrial park, the South into a housing estate.

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