Electricity first comes to Brisbane

Barton, White & Company’s Powerhouse in Edison Lane, Brisbane, c.1889. The Company became the first to provide a public supply of electricity in Queensland.*



The small western town of Thargomindah was reported as being the first town in Queensland to establish, rather than demonstrate, electric street lighting.

Thargomindah’s Hydro-Electric Powerhouse*


Inside Thargomindah’s Hydro-Electric Powerhouse



Queensland government introduced the Electric Light and Power Act to regulate the supply of electricity to Queenslanders.

First powerhouse built in Ann Street by the Brisbane Electric Supply Company



Delivery of the first boilers for BESCO’s Ann Street Powerhouse c1898



The number of electricity suppliers within Brisbane had grown to fourteen, including the City Electric and Light Company. City Electric Light Company’s Powerhouse in Ann Street Brisbane.


Brisbane Electric Supply Company letterhead


Staff at the City Electric and Light Company, Brisbane



Workers at the City Electric and Light Company, Brisbane



First regional powerhouse comes on board in Warwick



Between 1915-1919, several regional areas saw the progression of electricity.

  • 1915 – electricity introduced to Barcaldine
  • 1917 – Ipswich Electric Supply Company created and the first electric street lighting had been installed in Alice, Mary, Margaret, Charlotte and Albert Streets.
  • 1919 – Murwillumbah Power Station built
  • 1921: Longreach Powerhouse
  • May 1922: Hubert’s Well, Townsville
  • 1922: Home Hill Powerhouse
  • 1924: Goondiwindi Town Council inaugurated the electricity supply for the town
  • 1925: Cairns Switch-On
  • 1925: Kingaroy


Kingaroy powerhouse switches on 1925

  • The newly formed Brisbane City Council established the Electricity Department, which acted as a central authority guiding the provision of electricity throughout the city.
  • CEL had become the dominant supplier for Brisbane, with the company servicing 12,054 customers in 1925.


Construction of the first powerhouses in New Farm and Bulimba

Construction of the new Boiler house at the New Farm Power station


City Electric Light Company powerhouse



  • The Winton Electric Authority was inaugurated by the Winton Shire Council.
  • Toogoolawah received electricity from Nestles
  • Nambour switch-on

Nestles Condensary Toogoolawah


Nestles Condensary Workers Toolgoolawah



Barron Falls Scheme in the Far North led to the creation of the Barron Falls Hydro-Electricity Board

Taking materials to the construction site of Barron Falls using overhead cable


Other regional locations to introduce electricity in the early 1930s included: Charters Towers; Killarney; Nanango; Wondai; Allora; Dayboro

1939 – 1945

World war II – precautions were taken to protect power stations

  • Round-the-clock air raid spotters on call
  • Sand bags brought in
  • Bespoke igloo shaped bunkers were built to protect power stations
  • Chimney stacks were painted in camouflage colours
1939 - 1945<


  • City Electric & Light Company and Brisbane City Council are given control of the electricity supply for all of Brisbane.
  • Learning from a trial during the war, the Bulimba and New Farm powerhouses become interconnected. This is the first interconnection between two major generators, increasing the resilience of the network.

1945 – 1949

  • Cherbourg receives electricity
  • Toowoomba Electric Light Company (TELCo) is formed


  • First electrical showroom opens in Brisbane city selling electrical appliances
  • Within one year of opening, demand for electricity has sky-rocketed and sixteen more showrooms open

Demand for electricity increases as cities and towns across Queensland light up


Staff busy in Brisbane’s Bulimba B Boiler room



  • The Queensland government uses its powers to convert the City Electric and Light Company into a public authority and CEL became the Southern Electric Authority of Queensland (SEAQ).
  • The SEAQ in turn became the South East Queensland Electricity Board (SEQEB) and then, more recently, Energex.
  • Central Generating Station to be completed post-war was at Rockhampton with the Townsville Power Station coming on line in 1953.
  • More regions connect, including: Darling Downs; Quilpie; Richmond; Charleville; Aramac; Muttaburra; Abermain; Bribie Island; Blackbutt; Emu Park

Rockhampton Power Station


Turbine room at the Bulimba B Power Station


Lowering the alternator in position at Bulimba B powerhouse



Natural disasters strike Australia

Cyclone Tracy devastates Darwin, we’re a part of the rebuild of the electricity distribution network.


Floods strike Brisbane keeping electrical crews busy in disaster response.



Energex is formed as the south east Queensland electricity distribution network.



Ergon is formed by the Queensland Government, from the then six regional Queensland electricity distributors and their subsidiary retailers.



Queensland state-owned power companies Ergon, Ergon Retail, and Energex join together, and Yurika is created.


Powering possibility into the future