On the 1st October 1890, Mr William H H Preece was commissioned by the Colonial Government to “enquire into the propriety of introducing electric light” on the Rock. Following a loan for the supply of electricity raised under the Electric Light Ordinance of 1892, works commenced on the construction of King’s Bastion Power Station on the 15th September 1896.
As a result, Electric Light was first displayed in Gibraltar in April 1897, with the Electric Light Department formed on the 9th March 1898. On the 27th March 1899, certain public highways were first lit using Electricity.
On the 1st January 1902, the “Electricity Lighting Works” was purchased by the Sanitary Commissioners and by 1909, the generating capacity of the plant installed at King’s Bastion Power Station amounted to 1 Mw.
In 1921, the Sanitary Commissioners were succeeded by the City Council, who in 1935 adopted a policy for a complete conversion to compression ignition oil engines. Several improvements were made in terms of both, generating capacity and distribution infrastructure from 1946 up until 1973, with a number of diesel engines, a substation and an inter-connector with the Inter-Services Power Station at H.M. Dockyard being commissioned.
1979 saw Messrs Preece Cardew and Rider being instructed by the Government of Gibraltar to prepare a design brief for the construction of a new Power Station at the North Mole, with the contract later being awarded to Hawker Siddeley Power Engineering in February 1981.
Waterport Power Station was commissioned in August 1982 with two 5.25 Mw diesel engines, with a third 5.25 Mw diesel engine commissioned in 1988. As a result of Gibraltar’s development and economic growth, in 1989 the Government of Gibraltar entered into an agreement to purchase Electricity from a privately owned company; the Ormrod Electricity Supply Company Limited, better known as OESCO Limited. Consequently, a power station equipped with diesel engines was commissioned and operated by OESCO Limited, with the first diesel engine coming into operation on the 9th June 1990.
By 1994, the total number of substations throughout Gibraltar reached 60.
On the 28th March 2003, an Act was passed in the Gibraltar House of Assembly establishing the Gibraltar Electricity Authority and members of the Gibraltar Electricity Authority Board were nominated. The Authority was established with the aim of supplying Electricity in an efficient and economical manner, as well as maintaining and developing the distribution network and generating system.
2005 saw the King’s Bastion Power Station buildings being demolished. In 2006, the removal of the 6.6 kV transmission voltage from the distribution network was completed, and bringing the ‘Up-rating to 11 kV Programme’ came to an end. By this time, the number of substations had now increased to 70, and the Gibraltar Electricity Authority Safety Rules were revised and implemented.
In 2007, the General Conditions for the Supply of Electricity were revised and implemented.
The Gibraltar Electricity Authority has continued to expand and has just over 100 substations throughout Gibraltar. The North Mole Power Station will be entering service in 2020 with an installed generating capacity of approximately 80 Mw, resulting in the existing power plants being decommissioned.