Agency Details

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Agency ID401
TitleCity Electric Light Company Limited
Agency TypeStatutory authority
Start Date 2/12/1904
End Date 18/12/1952
Date NotesN/A

Responsible for regional electricity generation and supply

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Controlling Agencies

Agency IDTitleFromTo
4State Electricity Commission of Queensland 17/1/1938 18/12/1952
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Finding Aids

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Publication Notes
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Information Sources

The Electric Light and Power Act 1896
Electrical Workers Act 1927
State Electricity Commission Act of 1937
Southern Electric Authority of Queensland Act of 1952
Queensland Government Gazette, Jan 1938, Vol CL, No 6, pp. 71, 76
Queensland Government Gazette, May 1947, Vol CLXVIII No 108, p. 1513
Queensland Government Gazette, March 1949, Vol CLXXII No 62, p. 960
Queensland Government Gazette, December 1952, Vol CLXXXI, No 157, p. 1859 - 1860
Queensland Government Gazette, March 1955, Vol CLXXXVIII, No 71, p. 1079
City Electric Light Company Ltd "Minute Book", 8 Dec 1904 - 9 Dec 1913; QSA Item ID 844639
Companies Office, Brisbane "Company Files", No. 246/Book 11, QSA Item ID 283657
Companies Office, Brisbane "Register of Companies", 31 Book 11 - 111 Book 12, No. 246, QSA Item ID 341037
Thomis, Malcolm. "A History of the Electricity Supply Industry in Queensland" Vol 1 & 2, Brisbane, Boolarong 1987.
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Establishing N/A
Abolishing Southern Electric Authority of Queensland Act of 1952

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The City Electric Light Company was registered under the "Companies Act of 1863" on 2 December 1904. This company was the successor of the Brisbane Electric Supply Company whch was registered on 2 September 1896 and which was comprised of a small group of shareholders who were primarily employed by the company. The small number of shareholders was restricting the company's growth through lack of capital and so a decision was made to form a new company and thereby obtain a broader cross-section of shareholders. The first formal meeting of directors for the new City Electric Light Company was held on 8 December 1904 where it was determined that the formal handover of business operations between the two companies would occur on 1 February 1905.

Initially, the change between the two companies was a paper transaction with the owners selling the business to themselves. Continuity was maintained with the liquidators of the old company becoming the Directors of the City Electric Light Company. The City Electric Light Company had a capital base of 100,000 shares of which 20,000 preference shares and 40,000 ordinary shares were initially issued. These shares were allocated to the existing shareholders of the Brisbane Electric Supply Company who, under the terms of the sale, received five shares in the new company for each one they had previously held.

The company also introduced a scheme in 1907 whereby employees could apply for a set amount of shares after 2 years of service with each share priced at 6/8 per share and payment deferred for 5 years. Where the employee then remained with the company for a further period of 5 years after the date of the share application, the company paid the amount of the deferred payment as a bonus for long service.

Another notable change to the company's structure occurred on 2 September 1941 when the Ipswich Electric Supply Company Ltd ceased operations. This company had acted as a subsidiary company of City Electric Light Company in Ipswich and the surrounding districts since 28 August 1917. Due to the discrepancies in prices being charged by the two companies, the State Electricity Commission forced the Ipswich company to merge with its parent and consolidate operations.

Electricity supply
Electricity generation
Electricity, promotion of
Electrical appliances

The first experiments in electricity production and supply were conducted by private entrepreneurs but as the technology developed there was a gradual change in public policy that the provision of what was becoming an essential service should be managed by the government. In 1939, the State Electricity Commission became responsible for coordinating an agreement between the City Electric Company and the government for the eventual transfer of company ownership to the state. For the right to provide reticulated service from Gympie to the NSW border, excluding the area under the Brisbane City Council control, the company agreed that the Queensland State Government could acquire it after 1 February 1954.

Due to the war years, development of electricity supply lines was delayed and the cost to purchase the company was seen as prohibitive when the money was needed elsewhere for development. In consequence, the "Southern Electric Authority of Queensland Act " was passed in 1952 under which the City Electric Company would become a public authority with shareholders being bought out with stakes in a public loan. The company's directors retained control of operations with the addition to the management board of the State Electricity Commissioner and the undersecretary to Treasury. The new Southern Electric Authority of Queensland would operate as a public authority until 30 June 1968 when the government would acquire it without any cash payment.

N.B. The 1952 "Southern Electric Authority of Queensland Act" came into effect on 18 December 1952, therebey taking control of company operations, but the company was not struck-off the Companies' Office Register until 12 Mar 1955.

* The establishment of the State Electricity Commission resulted in government control of the management, development and co-ordination of power supply in Queensland.
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Preferred Citation

Queensland State Archives Agency ID401, City Electric Light Company Limited
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Last updated 9 September 2016
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia (CC BY 3.0) ( )
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