A brief history

This page provides a year-by-year summary of water and electricity services in the Northern Territory and a brief history of the Power and Water Corporation.


Replacement of the Set 15 engine at Tennant Creek Power Station is completed.

Darwin CBD switching stations are upgraded with new 11kV switchgear and express feeder cables. The new Wood Street switching station is complete.

Advanced water treatment plants are installed in the remote communities of Ali Curung, Kintore and Yuelemu. The new technology improves drinking water quality for residents in these communities.

A major upgrade of the Katherine Wastewater Treatment Plant is complete. Less treated waste will flow into the river as a result of three major evaporative ponds and associated hydraulic structures built at the plant. The plant is now positioned to cater for significant growth in the township for many years.

The new Woolner Zone Substation, replacing Snell Street Zone Substation in Darwin, is brought into service.

Construction of the Leanyer Zone Substation, in Darwin’s northern suburbs, has commenced along with the associated 66kV overhead lines.

Frances Bay Zone Substation is in the second stage of development.

Construction commences of the new Darwin Zone Substation, replacing City Zone Substation.

The upgrade of Ludmilla Wastewater Treatment Plant is complete, part of Power and Water’s broader sewerage strategy to increase capacity for a growing population and lessen its impact on the environment.

Construction commences of a second sewer rising main to the East Point outfall to cater for increased treated wastewater following the closure of the Larrakeyah outfall.

The Living Water Smart project is launched. The project aims to save 10 gigalitres or 10 000 million litres of water over five years in the Darwin region.


A major tunnelling project through the Darwin CBD helped divert untreated wastewater to the Ludmilla Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Larrakeyah outfall, the last untreated sewage release into Darwin Harbour, is closed. 

Solar power stations are commissioned in Ti Tree, Kalkarindji and Alpurrurulam. Wind turbines are also installed at Alpurrurulam. 

Two new Rolls Royce turbines are commissioned at Channel Island Power Station increasing the capacity of the Darwin-Katherine power supply.

Uterne, a new 1MW solar system, is integrated into the Alice Springs electricity grid.

The Trevor Allwright Training Centre at the 19 Mile depot is opened providing a unique training centre for Power and Water personnel.

A fifth generating set, with a capacity of 2.2MW, is commissioned at Yulara Power Station.


Owen Springs Power Station, a new high efficiency gas-fuelled generation power station, is commissioned.  

A 1MW solar power station, using flat-plate photovoltaic panels that track the sun through the day, is installed and commissioned to supply Alice Springs with renewable energy. Power and Water has signed a 20-year agreement to purchase the electricity it produces.

Two new dual fuel (gas and diesel) turbines are installed at Channel Island Power Station, increasing its capacity by about 90MW. 

Retail competition enters the electricity market.

New zone substations are commissioned in Palmerston and the rural area. Archer and Marrakai zone substations provide capacity for new domestic development in the areas.

The Alice Water Smart project is launched, with the goal of reducing the Central Australian town's water use by 1600 million litres per year.


The Darwin River Dam spillway is raised 1.3 metres, increasing its full supply level by an estimated 9000 mega litres.

Three new 10.9 mega watt engines are delivered to and installed at the new Owen Springs Power Station. These are the first for the new site, which will provide generation capacity for Alice Springs for the next 50 years. More than $60m is invested in supporting networks infrastructure.

The Alice Springs Water Reclamation Plant wins top honours for Environmental Engineering Excellence at a ceremony at Parliament House in Canberra, after winning the NT 2010 Engineering Awards.

The electricity market opens to full retail contestability on 1 April, opening the way for a retail electricity competitor to enter the Territory.

The Community Water Planning program rolls out to the first remote communities, helping Indigenous people identify alternate and supplementary water supplies as well as beginning a program of water conservation education.


Power and Water is awarded the Territory's first Green Building Council of Australia Green Star rating for its Ben Hammond Project, an expansion at our operational headquarters in Darwin.

Work starts on the Owen Springs Power Station, 25km outside of Alice Springs.

Judith King is appointed chairman of the Board of the Power and Water Corporation following the retirement of its first chairman Neil Phillips.

Major power stations receive first gas from the Bonaparte Basin offshore, the start of a 25-year gas supply contract. 

We launch Territory GreenPower, giving customers the opportunity to help invest in renewable energy technologies.


The Corporation announces and embarks on an infrastructure investment program valued at more than $1b.

Work begins on the new Archer Zone Substation and a new 1000mm water main to secure supplies to the growing city of Palmerston.

Weddell Power Station is constructed and commissioned near Darwin, with two 44MW gas turbines.

Category 1 Tropical Cyclone Helen hits the Top End in January, damaging powerlines and disrupting services.

A severe storm in September damages power networks in Alice Springs, launching a 48 hour around-the-clock effort to make repairs and restore services.

A series of power outages in Darwin's northern suburbs leads the Corporation to announce the Remedial Asset Management Plan, a two-year inspection and maintenance program for electricity networks infrastructure.

Works to close the Larrakeyah sewage outfall into Darwin Harbour commence.

A water reclamation plant is commissioned in Alice Springs in May as part of the Water Reuse in the Alice project.


Tenders to construct the new $57m Owen Springs Power Station at Brewer Estate, outside Alice Springs, are advertised.

Power and Water undertakes a major water management survey and releases the Darwin Water Story to highlight the issues faced supplying water to the Top End.

Andrew Macrides is appointed Managing Director of the Corporation.  

Low flying helicopters patrol hard-to-access high voltage powerlines as part of a new maintenance program, enabling Power Networks to plan their works more effectively.


Power and Water achieves a Territory first by gaining simultaneous triple accreditation to internationally recognised standards in Quality, Occupational Health and Safety and Environmental Protection.

Category 5 Tropical Cyclone Monica damages power, water and sewerage infrastructure in remote communities including Maningrida, Oenpelli and Jabiru in late April.

Flooding isolates Katherine township and power is disconnected to 165 customers.

Power and Water signs a 25-year gas purchase contract with ENI and an agreement with the Australian Pipeline Trust to build a pipeline to deliver the gas from the Blacktip field to the existing north-south gas pipeline.

Work starts on the Frances Bay Zone Substation, which will help secure electricity supply for Darwin CBD.

Dundee Beach residents can turn on town power for the first time.

Alice Springs records its highest peak power demand on record, at 52.6MW on 6 February.


Renewable energy is purchased from the Territory's first methane gas power plant at Shoal Bay landfill site.

Tennant Creek Power Station is upgraded with the addition of a 4.1MW Taurus 60 gas turbine.

A 1.8 million litre water tank is built at Lajamanu, becoming the largest water tank in a remote Territory community.

Power poles are removed from Nightcliff following the successful completion of the first stage of the Undergrounding Power Project.

A 160kW power station, with dish concentrators that track the sun, commences commercial power production at Hermannsburg.

Biodiesel is trialled as a fuel at Daly Waters Power Station.

Woolianna Road residents, near Daly River, connect to mains power for the first time.

Asbestos is isolated and removed from Power and Water sites.  


Solar and wind powered streetlights are trialled at Imangara, a remote community near Tennant Creek.

Tennant Creek residents hold a referendum on chlorination of their water supply and vote not to chlorinate the water.

Power and Water sponsors the Engineering Chair position at Charles Darwin University.

Solar dishes are installed in Hermannsburg, Lajamanu and Kalkarindji.

Two Solar Taurus 4.1MW gas turbines are installed at Ron Goodin Power Station in Alice Springs.

A new, fully integrated Retail Management System providing advanced billing capabilities is introduced.


Power and Water launches the Melaleuca Awards for Environmental Excellence.

Two staff are seriously injured while working on power networks near Mount Bundy.

The communities of Bulman in Arnhem Land and Kings Canyon in Central Australia test the viability of flat-plate solar photovoltaic technology to reduce reliance on diesel-powered generators. A 225kW solar power plant is commissioned at Kings Canyon Resort.

Water Reuse in the Alice is launched. This $6.1m project will treat and reuse sewage, reducing overflows into Ilparpa Swamp.


The Power and Water Corporation is created, becoming the first government-owned corporation in the Northern Territory on 1 July 2002.

NT Power exits the market.

The Darwin and Katherine electricity system recorded a new peak demand level of 224.3MW on 23 October.


Power and Water Authority receives national recognition for improved network reliability from the Electrical Supply Association of Australia. We move ahead of Western Australia, Tasmania and Queensland for network reliability.

The Utilities Commission takes on regulatory responsibility for water and sewerage.

Government-owned corporation legislation is passed in the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly in November.

The first Renewable Energy Credits from solar hot water systems are purchased.


The Power and Water Authority purchases the Darwin to Katherine transmission line.

The electricity market is opened to competition under federal legislation and the Utilities Commission is formed to regulate the market. NT Power enters the market.

New generators are commissioned at Tennant Creek and Yulara power stations.

Set 7 - a gas turbine - is commissioned at Channel Island Power Station in June.

The Power and Water Authority board is appointed in April.

The Authority holds its first Safety Week in October.


Staff help with water supply, electricity generation and transmission works in East Timor following the destruction of this infrastructure. They prepare a report outlining priorities for upgrades to the water supply system for the United Nations.

The Authority produces an Environment Report for the first time.

Extensive Y2K preparations are finalised for the transition to the new millenium.


Floods in Katherine cause extensive damage to the town. Staff help restore essential services in and around Katherine and assist with the major clean-up operations.


Design begins on the Channel Island Power Station ice plant, a world first. The ice is made overnight and used during the day to maximise efficient use of energy. Cold water circulated through the ice plant cools the air going into the turbines.


The Darwin Region Sewerage Strategy is developed, to provide for the area's future needs and increasing environmental requirements.


The McArthur River Mine near Borroloola is supplied with power in March. A power station is established at the mine site and supplied with natural gas.

A combined cycle 28 MW privately owned power plant is commissioned in Pine Creek.


Darwin's water supply is chlorinated at Darwin River Dam.

The first Customer Information System, integrating electricity, water and sewerage billing, is implemented across the Territory.


A second 1300mm pipeline is constructed from Darwin River Dam to McMinns Water Treatment Storage Facility.


Manton Dam is placed in reserve as a water supply and opened for recreational use.

A 132kV powerline linking Channel Island Power Station to Katherine and Pine Creek is commissioned.

Yulara Power Station is converted to operate on liquefied natural gas.


The Northern Territory Electricity Commission and Northern Territory Water Authority merge, creating the Power and Water Authority.

Stokes Hill Power Station is closed.

Gas turbines are commissioned in Alice Springs, Tennant Creek, Katherine and the new Channel Island Power Station.

The 132kV power line from Darwin to Katherine is built, the first privately-owned powerline in Australia.


Government decides to use natural gas fuel, rather than coal, at Channel Island Power Station, with natural gas piped from the Amadeus Basin in Central Australia. 


New pumping station is constructed at McMinns and two vertical shaft-driven pumps are installed.

Palmerston's iconic elevated water tank is constructed.

First use of reclaimed water for irrigation.

First supply of natural gas is made to Alice Springs Ron Goodin Power Station via a 150km pipeline from Palm Valley field. 


Yulara Power Station is commissioned with total capacity of 2600kW. 


66kV XLPE cable is used to connect Vanderlin Drive to Casuarina Zone Substation.  This is the first use in Australia of a solid insulant cable in a transmission system. 


A water pumping station and treatment plant is commissioned at Donkey Camp, Katherine. 


Berrimah gas turbine station is commissioned, following a series of failures at Stokes Hill Power Station that had led to commissions of enquiry. The gas turbines were powered by JT8D jet engines as used in the Boeing 707 aircraft of the day.

Underground cables are installed to connect the cyclone-proof generators to the new underground suburbs of Anula, Wulagi, Malak and Karama (seen as being dormitory suburbs in the event of another cyclone). 


A state-of-the-art mobile radio system is introduced for crews, using solar power at remote repeater sites.

Ludmilla Wastewater Treatment Plant is commissioned.

The Northern Territory Electricity Commission (NTEC) is established as part of self government on 1 July 1978. The first Commissioner is Max Dryer, who came from Elcom in New Guinea. Prior to the formation of NTEC, construction, operation and maintenance of the power and water systems were performed by the Commonwealth Department of Works. Revenue was collected by NT Administration. There was minimal reconciliation of revenue and expenditure. 


A massive effort is needed to totally rebuild the Darwin power system after Cyclone Tracy. Initial efforts are directed at simply re-establishing supply, followed by a full rebuild to stronger standards over three years. A decision is made to underground power to all new suburbs, including Anula, Wulagi, Wanguri and Tiwi.

Tennant Creek Power Station is commissioned, replacing private power supply by Peko Mines. 


On Christmas Eve Cyclone Tracy completely blacks out Darwin. Stokes Hill Power Station is closed down at 3.30am Christmas morning. Rainwater and salt water drench the power station. Water is an immediate issue with supply being restored from Manton Dam. In response to a telegram on Boxing Day, 31 crew from interstate electricity authorities arrive to help with the first arrivals from Townsville Queensland and the Blue Mountains in New South Wales.

The Territory's first gas turbine is installed in Darwin following an equipment failure at Stokes Hill Power Station. This was a Rolls Royce AVON which came from Tasmania.


City Zone Substation is constructed in Darwin. At the time electricity load was growing at 17 per cent a year.

The 11kV tunnel in Darwin CBD is constructed.

The new Sadadeen Valley power station is commissioned in Alice Springs. It is renamed Ron Goodin Power Station in 1981 to honour its first superintendent who was instrumental in sourcing local fuel sources (crude oil and natural gas) for power generation.


Darwin River Dam and Katherine Water Treatment Plant are commissioned. The capacity of Darwin River Dam is 259,000mL, with an annual yield of 38,000mL.

A new diesel power station is commissioned at Tennant Creek. Prior to this power for the town was purchased from the Peko Mines power station east of the town.

An elevated 1mL water storage tank is constructed at Casuarina, with an associated 10mL ground level storage.


Ludmilla sewage treatment plant is proposed, with construction to be completed by 1975.

Casuarina Zone Substation is built to service the rapidly developing northern suburbs of Darwin.

Two Allen generating sets are commissioned in a new building next to the Sadadeen Valley Power Station.

Reticulated sewage scheme begins in Tennant Creek.


Darwin Central Zone Sewerage Scheme is introduced.


Leanyer sewage ponds are commissioned.


Armidale Street Power Station is closed down.


McMinns borefield is commissioned to supplement the Manton Dam supply to Darwin.

McMinns Zone Substation is established to service Darwin's rural area. A long 2kV feeder supplies the Humpty Doo rice project and Stan Kennon's crusher at Mount Bundy.

Water in Darwin Harbour is monitored for levels of pollution attributed to sewage disposal.


A water pumping station and storage reservoir is constructed at McMinns.

The entire Alice Springs water supply comes from Mereenie Basin.


New pumping equipment is installed at Manton Dam to increase production rates.

Groundwater from the Mereenie Basin is brought into use for Alice Springs.

Natural gas is discovered at the Mereenie field southwest of Alice Springs and a year later at Palm Valley.


Manton Dam's water supply capacity is reached and bores are drilled at McMinns.

Sewerage pump stations are constructed at Rapid Creek and Lakeside Drive. Plans are developed for waste material pumped to Leanyer treatment ponds.


Stokes Hill Power Station stage 1 is completed, with generating capacity of 15MW. Diesel engines give way to steam-powered turbines.

Tennant Creek's new reticulated water supply is opened, with water from the Cabbage Tree Gum groundwater supply south of the town.


Alice Springs sewerage system starts.


Alice Springs Power Station is extended, with a three-cylinder 529kW Mirrlees generator.


The Alice Springs Power Station building is extended to provide space for additional generating sets. Peak demand is reported at 750kW.


Peko Mines supplies Tennant Creek with power.


Alice Springs Power Station has additional plant installed to cater for a maximum demand of 500kW.

Katherine water supply is augmented by DCA bore.


Tennant Creek town dam is completed.


Sewage disposal facilities are established at independent zones around Darwin. Outfalls at Nightcliff and Larrakeyah pump raw sewage to the harbour.


Reticulated water supply is made available to Darwin residents.

Water from Tennant Creek's no. 7 bore is treated and piped to the town's water supply.


Electricity generators are set up in Darwin, Alice Springs, Katherine, Tennant Creek and Adelaide River following the withdrawal of the military, which had provided essential services.

Alice Springs Bath Street Power Station closes, with all power generation now located in Sadadeen Valley.


Water starts flowing from Manton Dam to Darwin. With a regular water supply, flush toilets are finally possible.

Howard Springs weir is constructed by the military. A second pipeline with a 375mm diameter is installed from Manton Dam.


Alice Springs has its second power station constructed (220kW) in Sadadeen Valley, to meet increasing demand from civilian population and 4600 service personnel.

After the bombing of Darwin on 19 February, most civilians are evacuated. Electricity generation and distribution become a military matter until after the war.

An anti-torpedo net is constructed across Manton Dam.


Water is pumped from Manton Dam to Darwin for military purposes. One of the pipes is owned by the Navy.

Alice Springs' Bath Street Power Station is extended to accommodation another two generating sets to bring the total generating capacity to 182kW.


Additional water storage tanks are constructed in Darwin and the first sections of reticulation installed.

A second power station is established at Bishop Street to cope with the increasing military load and provide diversity.

A third 78kW generating set is commissioned in Alice Springs, bringing the town capacity to 118kW. Demand is between 40kW and 44kW.


The completed northern portion of Manton Dam pipeline is supplied with water from a temporary weir and pump at Howard Springs.

Five steel elevated water storage tanks are completed around Darwin. A ground level water tank is erected at Stokes Hill and the elevated water control tank constructed at RAAF base Darwin.

A large power station is constructed in Armidale Street and later sandbagged to protect it from air raids. It served Darwin until 1970.


Contract is let for the construction of Manton Dam wall.

New houses at Myilly Point have septic tanks installed. 


Electricity supply is transferred to the Commonwealth Works and Services branch, with a staff of five. Commercial customers now consist of Northern Standard Newspaper, Ice and Cold Storage, EW Hansen Welding, Darwin Hospital, Health Laboratory, Public Works Department, JW Young Battery Charging, the radio station, Kyriakis Zero cafe and the Don Hotel. 


In March, a cyclone destroys Darwin's entire electricity supply, requiring repairs for 60 pounds to poles, street lights, mains and service cables. All service is restored by the end of the week.  


Electricity reaches Darwin Hospital at Myilly Point and modern medical equipment becomes possible. Water is supplied to the hospital from the Montoro Street tank. 


Darwin City Council builds a power station in an area bordered by Woods and Lindsay streets and provides for "the construction and purchase of water works, gas works and electric light works". The Council offers refrigerators and fans for sale to the public. 


Water supply for Darwin residents is drawn from private wells and the Railway Dam. 


Four hundred and twenty six Darwin residents petition the Minister for Homes and Territories requesting a permanent water supply. 


A steam-driven water pumping station is set up on the bank of the Katherine River. 


Felix Holmes signs an agreement that gives him the right to produce power for Darwin for five years. His original power plant is in Smith Street, on the site now occupied by Darwin Plaza. 


The Government Freezer and Cold-Store finally breaks down. The generating plant works until 23 April 1923, when Felix Holmes is contracted to supply Darwin's electricity. Holmes runs coal-fired suction gas engines to supply electricity for six hours a day.


Vestey's Meatworks is established at Bullocky Point in Darwin with concrete ground level rrainwater tanks. Water is used for drinking and washing down the slaughtered beasts.


Private entrepreneur Ernest Felix Holmes and the Government establish a small power plant, cold-store / freezer in the railway yards in Darwin. This provides ice, storage for perishable foods and supplies power to Government offices. Holmes' first engine generates 25kW. 


The "one mile" railway dam in Darwin (constructed in 1887) is gazetted. It becomes polluted from drainage running off the city down through Frogs Hollow. Its primary purpose is to serve steam locomotives.


Township of Stuart (Alice Springs) is proclaimed.


Work commences on the Palmerston to Pine Creek railway with bores, pumps and tanks being constructed along the 145 mile long line. The railway was completed in 1889, two years ahead of schedule and on budget.


Tennant Creek stock well is completed.


Alice Springs is discovered by William Whitfield Mills. Mills named the springs after Charles Todd's wife.


Palmerston (now Darwin) is founded by SA surveyor General George Woodroffe Goyder. Wells are sunk at Stokes Hill and Doctor's Gully to provide water for the Fort Hill camp. Peel's Well at Doctor's Gully is to become the settlement's main source of water.

Sanitation is not considered at this time.