Crikey is putting together a definitive time line of the great Australian energy sector shake-out. From the beginning of the privatisation program in 1995 to the present, Crikey has tracked the ins and outs of Australian electricity.

And in researching this list we came across this excellent paper which analyses power sector reform in Australia over the past decade: Energy Market Review

Please send in your additions or corrections to the following list:

March 1994: Glastone Power Station, the largest power station in Queensland, was sold by the Goss government to Comalco, NRG and a group of aluminium traders. At the time it was the largest private power acquisition in the world.

August 1995: Kansas City-based Utilicorp, AMP and NSW State Super buy Victorian electricity distributor and retailer United Energy for $1.553 billion from the Kennett Government.

September 1995: AGL and US company GPU pay $950 million for Solaris Power, the smallest of the five Victorian electricity distributors based in Melbourne’s western suburbs.

November 1995: Powercor, the largest Victorian distributor covering the western half of the state sold to US utility PacifiCorp for $2.15 billion.

December 1995: Texas Utilities buys Eastern Energy for $2.08 billion.

December 1995: Citipower bought by New Orleans-based utility Entergy for $1.57 billion.

March 1996: PowerGen of Britain leads a consortium including Itochu, AMP, Hastings and NSW State Super which paid $2.43 billion for the 1800 megawatt Yallourn power station in the Latrobe Valley.

August 1996: Britain’s National Power and its US partners Destec and PacifiCorp paid a ridiculous $2.3 billion for the 30-year old Hazelwood Power station in the Latrobe Valley.

April 1997: Edison Mission Energy renegotiates long term power sale deal done with Kirner government and takes over a $1.1 billion liability and 100 per cent ownership of the 1000 megawatt Loy Yang B power station in the Latrobe Valley.

April 1997: Chicago based NRG and fellow US utility CMS team up with Macquarie Bank to buy Loy Yang A for a staggering $4.85 billion.

October 1997: US utility GPU pays an excessive $2.55 billion for monopoly transmission company Powernet Victoria.

November 1997: Infratil and NZ company Contact Energy pay $391 million for Southern Hydro, Victoria’s small hydro power outfit.

January 1998: AGL buys out Energy Initiatives, its 50 per cent partner in Victorian electricity distributor Solaris, for $219 million, giving it a 58 per cent profit on its equity as the original $950 million acquisition in 1996 was heavily geared.

March 1998: AMP and Utilicorp partially float United Energy raising $390 million and confirming a 20 per cent plus profit on their initial $1.553 billion purchase in August 1996.

March 1998: Epic Energy, a consortium including American power giants El Paso and Consolidated Natural Gas, along with AMP, NSW State Super and Hastings, pay a ridiculous $2.47 billion for the Dampier-to-Bunbury natural gas pipeline which has now arguably almost halved in value.

Mid 1998: BHP sold off the Port Hedland and Newman power stations in WA to Duke Energy

November 1998: Citipower sold by New Orleans-based Entergy for $1.6 billion to fellow US utility AEP, booking a tiny profit.

February 1999: Texas Utilities buys the first of three Victoria gas retailers and distributors, Westar/Kinetik, for $1.62 billion.

March 1999: American group Utilicorp and its local partner, AMP, paid $1.97 billion to snare the second of Victoria’s gas retailers and distributors, Miltinet/Ikon.

March 1999: Boral and Envestra buy the third Victorian gas distributor and retailer Strataus/Energy 21, for $1.67 billion which is now part of the Boral spin-off Origin Energy.

May 1999: Gasnet, Victoria’s monopoly gas transmission business, sold to GPU for $1.025 billion in the last of the Kennett sales.

Dec 1999: Li Ka-Shing led Cheung Kong Infrastructure and Hong Kong Electric Holdings pays $3.5 billion for ETSA transmission and distribution assets.

1999-2000: Alliant Energy Corporation (AEC) trading as Alliant Energy Australia (AEA) progressively bought Southern Hydro and now owns each of the three partner companies that form the Southern Hydro Partnership, having bought the Contact Energy share in 1999 and the Infratil share in 2000.

February 2000: Shell, United Energy (AMP and UtiliCorp) and Woodside put retail gas and electricity assets into Pulse Energy.

2000: Scottish Power sells Powercor for $2.32 billion, barely more than its 1995 sale price, to the Hong Kong consortium Cheung Kong Infrastructure Holdings and Hongkong Electric Holdings.

2000: GPU booked a $450 million loss when it sold its electricity transmission business, PowerNet Victoria, to Singapore Power for $2.1 billion.

October 2000: Utilicorp (now Aquila) and AMP pay $4.38 a share for a cornerstone shareholding in WA gas utility Alinta Gas before it is floated by the Court government at the knockdown price of $2.30 a share. Alinta shares have recovered to $4.25 and Aquila is a seller.

April 2001: Origin Energy buys Powercor’s 582,000-customer retail business from Lia Ka Shing’s Hong Kong.empire for $137 million as part of the deal with Scottish Power.

Mid 2001: Bell Bay Power Company, (a subsidiary of Tasmanian Hydro Electric Corporation) hands 120MW Bell Bay Power Station (Tasmania)to Duke Energy for conversion to natural gas, …complete with long term management contract.

Early 2002: Duke Energy opens a new small power station (43 MW) at Bairnsdale, Vic, to supplement existing generation.

July 2002: AGL buys Pulse for $880m.

August 2002: US company Edison Mission and Kiwi outfit Contact Energy open new $165 million, 300-megawatt Valley Power peaking plant at Loy Yang B.

December 2002: US utility AES sells its Mt Stuart power station in Queensland to Origin Energy for $93 million and its two Victorian gas-fired plants at Newport and Jeeralang to a consortium of consortium of Babcock & Brown and Prime Infrastructure Group, for $202 million. However, AES booked a 40 per cent profit from the $104 million in equity it collected from the two deals, making it a rare winner.

December 2002: Western Power being broken up, NRG walks away from Flinders Power, Loy Yang A close to being sold, Aquila, AMP and Alinta Gas in talks to restructure their operations and AGL walks away from giant PNG gas pipeline project, Southern Hydro up for sale, AGL struggling to get their new Somerton gas-fired station up and running for the summer peak.

July 2003: The giant Loy Yang A power station in Victoria conditionally sold by CMS-NRG-Horizong for $3.5 billion to a consortium including AGL, Tokyo Electric and the Commonwealth Bank for $3.5 billion, crystallising a $1.4 billion loss in just 6 years.

March 2004: Alinta paid $1.69 billion for US company Duke Energy’s gas pipeline and power plants in Australia and New Zealand.

Peter Fray

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