Happy Birthday Electricity Act 1989

Scroll for more

Happy Birthday Electricity Act 1989


There was an important anniversary last week. No – not that one. I’m talking about the 30th anniversary of the Electricity Act 1989, probably the most influential document in our industry in this neck of the woods since at least, well, when men were walking on the moon.

As our current blog series, A History of the Liberalised Electricity Industry in 25 Freebies, relates, this was the original, the big kahuna, the granddaddy of them all.‎ Without it there almost certainly wouldn’t have been an Electricity Regulation Act, 1999, or an Elektriciteitswet 1998, or indeed the rest of them. The “British Experiment” is why we are all here trading away in a world of competitive electricity markets.

It passed into law in a different world, where in the wholesale market coal was still king and renewables and gas just didn’t really feature. A world where the electricity board still sold you your cooker in its shop on the high street as well as being your monopoly electricity supplier. Yet ‎it laid the groundwork for 200+ suppliers competing for our business (and failing occasionally), in the Fossil Fuel Levy it laid the groundwork for a seismic change in the industry which would see zero carbon sources generate more electricity than fossil fuel in the first half of 2019, just a generation later.

‎The Act is still in force, albeit modified over the years and now sitting alongside various other legislation like the Utilities Act 2000 and the Energy Act 2004. If you want to perform a licenced activity in the GB market, you are still licenced on the basis of the 1989 Act.‎ The regulator is a creature of the Act. The structure of the industry stems from the Act. I could go on.


Happy Birthday 1989 Chapter 29!