An economic history of the Scottish electricity supply industry 1878-c.1930
The influence of legislation on the Scottish electricity supply industry was great and by 1931 promoting greater national efficiency. Until the mid-1890's private installations underpinned the development of electricity supply but were being overtaken by the more efficient central generating stations, and after 1900 by the establishment of power companies. Until 1931 the industry was broadly divided between local authorities and private enterprise, the former concentrated in the larger urban cities and towns and the latter in the less industrialised areas; the promotion of power companies complicated this simple analysis. Hostility between these sectors inhibited progress and lack of co-operation necessitated more positive government intervention in 1926. Superficially electricity supply was vested in numerous autonomous undertakings. However, the private sector was governed by international holding companies. Foreign investment was substantial and aided private development: it was not benevolent and a price was exacted in financial and contractual ligations. The thesis also examines the industry in the context of the general Scottish economy. The effect of the trade cycle is considered and the application of electricity to established sectors of the economy. Comparisons have been made with the experience of the rest of the United Kind economy. In the period examined demand continually grew as the market - industrial, commercial and domestic - widened; this was evident nationally. Moreover, the industry's ability to meet this expansion also improved as individual units increased in scale: greater efficiency was introduced in generation and transmission; even the adverse effects of the trade cycle could not detract from the overall growth of the industry. In 1931 there were still weaknesses but the industry was firmly established and the 1926 legislation had provided a framework to promote greater national efficiency. Future growth was certain.