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The erstwhile Mysore State had the enviable and glorious position of establishing the first major hydro-electric generating station at Shivasamudram as early as 1902 for commercial operation. The art at that time was still in its infancy, even in the advanced countries. The longest transmission line, at the highest voltage in the world, was constructed to meet the power needs of mining operations at Kolar Gold Fields
The generating capacity of the Shivasamudram Power House gradually increased to 42 MW in stages. To meet the increasing demand for power, the Shimsha Generating Station, with an installed capacity of 17.2 M.W, was commissioned in the year 1938. The power demand was ever on the increase, for industries and rural electrification, and additions to generating became imperative. The 1st stage of 48 MW and 2nd stage of 72 MW of the Mahatma Gandhi Hydro-Electric Station were commissioned during 1948 and 1952, respectively.
Subsequently, the Bhadra Project, with an installed capacity of 33.2 MW, and the Thungabhadra Left Bank Power House, with an installed capacity of 27 MW at Munirabad were commissioned during 1964 and 1965, respectively.
The State of Karnataka, with availability of cheap electric power, and other infrastructure facilities, was conducive for increased tempo of industrial activity. It became necessary therefore, to augment power generating capacity by harnessing the entire potential of the Sharavathi Valley. The first unit of 89.1 MW was commissioned in 1964 and completed in 1977.
The demand for power saw a phenomenal increase in the mid sixties and onwards with the setting up of many public sector and private industries in the State. As power generation in the State was entirely dependent on monsoon and was subject to its vagaries, the State Government set up a coal based power plant at Raichur. The present installed capacity of the power plant at Raichur is 1260 MWs.
To augment the energy resources of the State, the Kalinadi Project with an installed capacity of 810MW at Nagjhari Power House and 100 MW at Supa Dam Power House, with an energy potential of 4,112 Mkwh, were set up.
The transmission and distribution system in the State was under the control of the Government of Karnataka (then Mysore) till the year 1957. In the year 1957, Karnataka Electricity Board was formed and the private distribution companies were amalgamated with Karnataka Electricity Board.
Till the year 1986, KEB was a profit making organisation. However, in the subsequent years, like other State Electricity Boards in the country, KEB also started incurring losses, mainly due to the increase in agricultural consumption and due to the implementation of the socio economic policies of the Government, the performance of the power sector was affected.
To improve the performance of the power sector and in tune with the reforms initiated by Government of India, the Government of Karnataka came out with a general policy proposing fundamental and radical reforms in the power sector. Accordingly a bill, namely Karnataka Electricity Reforms Act was passed by the Karnataka Legislature. The Reform bill has mandated major restructuring of the Karnataka Electricity Board and its Corporatisation. As part of Corporatisation, the Karnataka Electricity Board ceased to exist and the Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation Limited to look after Transmission and Distribution in the State and VVNL (Visweshwaraiah Vidyuth Nigama Limited) to look after the generating stations under the control of erstwhile Karnataka Electricity Board were constituted from 01.08.99.