History of Electricity in Geelong
Geelong’s history of homegrown electricity production left a lasting legacy, one that is carried on by Geelong electricians today.
The story begins and ends with the Geelong Power Stations. Local production began in 1901, yet by 1970 high operating costs signalled the end of an era.
Now, the buildings serve as proud reminders for the hardworking city.
Geelong A Comes to Power (1900-1930)
Geelong’s first move towards electricity began in 1898 when three competing companies put their hands up for the town’s electricity production contract.
When two of them merged, forming the Electric Lighting and Traction Company of Australia, the decision made itself.
Geelong’s first electricians, Francis William Clements and Herbert Harper, spearheaded the construction of the Geelong Power Station in 1900.
The electrical engineering pair were pioneers in the field, and the Geelong Power Station project was the first of several major achievements.
During his career, Harper became the first chief engineer of Victoria’s State Electricity Commission, while Clements was chairman of the Victorian State Electricity Commission.
Both received the Kernot Memorial Medal for distinguished engineering achievements in Australia, and the Peter Nicol Russell Medal.
Construction on the Geelong Power Station was completed in 1901 and on May 3 the plant was activated. Geelong had electricity!
In 1908 the Melbourne Electric Supply Company claimed ownership of the Electric Light and Traction Co.
Geelong A enjoyed a major upgrade in 1920 as new equipment increased output from a paltry 200kW to 10,500kW.
The Rise and Fall of Geelong A & B (1930-1970)
The State Electricity Commission of Victoria (SECV) took ownership of a faltering Geelong A Power Station in 1930.
Despite the upgrade 10 years earlier, one of the generators had already failed, lowering the maximum output.
Remarkably no major changes occurred. Instead, Geelong connected to Victoria’s state grid in 1936 and sourced most of its power from the Latrobe Valley.
Still, the desire for locally produced power led to the construction of Geelong B in 1954. With a superior 30,000kW capacity it was the largest power station in Victoria for a brief period of time.
Back in the CBD, sadly Geelong A’s life was coming to an end. The elder power station lost functionality in 1961, and as a result, was promptly decommissioned.
The SECV sold all working equipment over the next decade before the entire building finally sold in 1970.
For Geelong B, 1970 proved to be an unexpected end date as well.
The young plant struggled with high operating costs throughout the 1960s, used only during high demand periods. Following the activation of Anglesea Power Station and expansion at the Latrobe Valley, Geelong B became obsolete.
A Lasting Legacy (1970-present)
Remnants of Geelong A and Geelong B remain, providing a lasting legacy. Geelong A became a part of the Bay City Plaza Shopping Centre, which opened in 1988. It’s façade on the corner of Brougham St and Yarra St is the last remaining vestige of a proud history.
Likewise, Geelong B’s powerhouse is one of the last buildings standing on its old site. For a brief period, it housed local artists and art installations.
Meanwhile, in 2013 Kardinia Park finally had lights installed! The home of the Geelong Cats, Kardinia Park had been in the dark for too long. Now, just like the art installations at the Geelong B Powerhouse, it’s a visual highlight for the city.
While Geelong’s local electrical production may have ended with Geelong A and B, the dedication to local customers for Metropolitan Electrical Contractors will never end.
If you’re in need of an electrician in Geelong, Metropolitan Electrical Contractors is the team for you. For over 25 years we’ve built a renowned reputation as trusted Geelong electricians.
Published: 24 Nov, 2020