Commercial Development: Pricing for Growth

  • Leslie Hannah


The objective of the Area Board chairmen in the 1950s is perhaps best interpreted as maximising the rate of growth of electricity sales consistent with covering book costs overall. In the early years, they were constrained severely by the shortage of generating capacity and, in many areas, by the low capacity of inherited distribution mains; though the backlog of investment in both was, by the mid-1950s, being overcome. Even in the earlier period, however, it was difficult to hold back the commercial urges of line managers, though some marketing effort was initially canalised into the job of discouraging the sale of electric fires or persuading people to go carefully in the use of electricity at peak times. When accused of promoting sales at a time when they were incapable of supplying the electricity, the Board chairmen were robustly defensive. They were doing their best to restrict peak growth, but neither the Central Authority nor the Government, they argued, should attempt, for short-term reasons, to blunt the commercial edge of the industry. They were anxious to build up their Board’s commercial skills and saw this as an essential part of gaining the advantages of larger-scale management after nationalisation.


Central Authority Space Heating Peak Demand Commercial Development Domestic Consumer 
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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    E.g. N. F. Marsh, ‘The Case For Simple Hire’, Electrical Times, 9 April 1953, p. 665;Google Scholar
  2. C. E. Knight, An Area Board Accountant’s Contribution to Management (British Electricity Authority, 1954) p. 91ff.Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    C. T. Melling, ‘General Factors affecting the Unification of Electricity Supply Tariffs’, Journal of the Institution of Electrical Engineers, vol. 90, part 1, 1943; L. Hannah, Electricity Before Nationalisation: A Study of the Development of Electricity Supply in Britain to 1948 (London and Baltimore, 1979) ch. 6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 12.
    For an account of the problems and the solutions adopted, see A. O. Johnson and N. F. Marsh, ‘The Standardisation of Retail Electricity Tariffs’, Proceedings of the Institution of Electrical Engineers, vol. 102, part A, 1955.Google Scholar
  5. 15.
    For an account of the changes see R. L. Meek, ‘The Bulk Supply Tariff for Electricity’, Oxford Economic Papers, new series, vol. 15, 1963.Google Scholar
  6. 21.
    Though proposals within the industry on an equitable solution seem fair, see e.g. A. O. Johnson and L. P. Holder, ‘Electricity Supplies for Industry’, Proceedings of the British Electrical Power Convention 1953, pp. 139–40.Google Scholar
  7. 22.
    E. R. Wilkinson, ‘Electricity and Industrial Production’, Proceedings of the British Electrical Power Convention 1953, p. 102.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Electricity Council 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Leslie Hannah
    • 1
  1. 1.London School of EconomicsUK

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