Electricity has been a key instrument in socio-economic development scenario of mankind. The history of electricity in Kerala is a story of innovations and progress over decades. Electricity was first brought to the state by a British company named ‘Kannan Devan Hill Produce Company’ in Munnar. The first hydro electric project in Kerala with a capacity of 200 kW was established in 1900 on the right bank of a tributary of River Periyar- Muthirapuzha and commissioned in 1910.
It was during 1912-13 that the Government of Travancore seriously considered the idea of power generation in Kerala. In 1913 a team was constituted under the leadership of Chief Engineer, Sri S.M.Jacob to study the feasibility of electricity generation in Travancore, Kochi and Malabar. It was in 1927 that the Travancore Government took a decision to generate electricity for catering the needs of households in Thiruvananthapuram city, for which an Electricity Division was formed under the Public Works Department. Subsequently in 1927, a Thermal Power Station was established at Thiruvananthapuram under ownership of the Government for production of electrical energy on commercial basis. Three oil engine generators, of 65 kW capacity each were installed and commercial production started in 1929 with an installed cost of Rs.9 lakh. Subsequently, many private agencies came forward to produce electricity in private sector.
A significant development in the history of electricity in Kerala was the formation of a separate department for electricity under the Travancore Government in 1933 by His Highness Sri Chithirathirunal Maharaja and his Diwan Sir C.P. Ramaswami Iyer, which paved the way for many notable developments in electricity sector. In 1934 thermal generating stations were set up at Kollam, Kottayam and Nagercoil (now in Tamil Nadu). By that time, the possibilities of hydroelectric generation attracted the attention of the technologists and the authorities.
As the land of Kerala is blessed by the Western Ghats sumptuously with about 40% of its ranges lie in the State with around 44 rivers of which 41 originates from the Western Ghats. The undulating terrain and heavy precipitation in monsoon were some of the best factors which attracted attention of the technologists and authorities. The vast potential for hydroelectric generation in the state prompted
the state authorities to take steps to establish stations for hydroelectric generation. The first of these ventures was started in 1933 by contructing the first hydro electric power project at a village named Pallivasal situated on the south western part of Idukki district. On March 19,1940 Sir C.P. Ramaswamy Iyer, the Diwan of Travancore inaugurated first stage of Pallivasal power project, which had an installed capacity of 13.5 MW. It was the first hydro electric power project in Kerala, set up to cater the electricity demand of the general public. The State Electricity Department also took over the 200 kW from Kannan Devan Hill Produce Company by this time. By that time, the transmission network in the state also developed with the commissioning of 66 kV substations at Alappuzha, Mavelikkara, Kothamangalam, Kundara, Kalamasserry, Viyyur, Aluva, and Thiruvananthapuram during the months of April, May 1940.
In exercise of the powers conferred by Section 5 of the Electricity(Supply) Act 1948, the newly formed Government of Kerala (elected through the first general election conducted) constitued the Kerala State Electricity Board by the Order No.E L1-6475/56/PW dated 07.03.1957, for carrying out the business of Generation, Transmission and Distribution of electricity in the state of Kerala. Kerala State Electricity Board commenced functioning with effect from the afternoon of 31.03.1957. The first governing body consisted of 5 members, and was headed by the Chairman K P Sreedharan Nair. The staff of the erstwhile Electricity Department were transferred to the Board. The Board then took over the functions exercised by the Comptroller in respect of the accounts and internal audit of the former Electricity Department and evolve a proper system of internal check acceptable to the Statutory Auditor under Seciton 69 of the Act.
Under the Electricity(Supply) Act, the Board was charged with the general duty of promoting the co-ordinated development of generation, supply and distribution of electricity within the State in the most efficient and economical manner with particular reference to such development in areas for the time being not served or adequately served by any licensee. The 'Board' consisting of the Chairman and the Members was the Supreme Governing Body.
During 2002, the Government of Kerala and KSE Board issued orders for the restructuring of KSE Board into profit centers. Members headed the profit centers. A Corporate Office coordinated and controlled the activities of the Board.
Since the enactment of the Electricity Act, 2003, KSEB and as mutually decided by the Government of India and Government of Kerala, KSEB had continued as the State Transmission Utility (STU) and Distribution licensee w.e.f 10 December 2004 under section 172(a) of the Electricity Act, 2003, till 24.09.2008. The Central Government had approved the continuation of KSEB as a State Transmission Utility & Licensee only up to 24 September 2008. Later, in exercise of powers conferred under sub-sections (1), (2), (5), (6) and (7) of section 131 of the Electricity Act, 2003, State Government vide the notification G.O (Ms).37/2008/PD dated 25 September 2008 vested all functions, properties, interests, rights, obligations and liabilities of KSEB with the State Government till it is re-vested the same in a corporate entity.
The Kerala State Electricity Board Limited has been incorporated under the Companies Act, 1956 on 14th January 2011.Upon revesting as per Second Transfer Scheme, KSEBL obained the ‘Certificate of Commencement of Business’ on 06.06.2013 and began to carry out the business of ‘Electricity’ in the State of Kerala with effect from 01.11.2013. In exercise of the powers conferred under Section 131 (2) of the Electricity Act, 2003, Government of Kerala (GoK) notified Kerala Electricity Second Transfer Scheme (Re-vesting) 2013 vide GO (P) No. 46/2013/PD dated 31st October 2013. Through this notification all the assets, liabilities, rights and obligations of erstwhile KSEB vested into State Government by first transfer scheme dated 25.09.2008 were re-vested to the successor entity i.e. Kerala State Electricity Board Ltd (KSEBL).