28th February 1903
Plans for St Sampson power station approved
Plans for the power station at St Sampson were approved on 28 February 1903. When built, the station would be Guernsey’s second generating facility. It was desperately needed to cope with rising demand.
Guernsey’s first power station first had been constructed at Les Amballes in St Peter Port in 1900. It was an ambitious project, which had brought electric lighting to the town.
Yet within just two years, demand was already outstripping supply. It was obvious something had to be done to supplement the existing facility, so plans were put in place for a second generating site in St Sampson.
The growing need for electricity
Once St Sampson’s power station had been completed, it supplemented, rather than replaced the Les Amballes site. The two stations were linked by cable, and excess supply was stored in batteries. This allowed the generators to be switched off three days a week without subscribers losing the power they needed.
This was an importand consideration for the businesses that ran them. At the time, the electricity operators were still private concerns, so being able to shut down for half the week would help them cut costs. They could reduce the amount of oil they burned without jeopardising the supply, which in turn increased their profits.
Public ownership beckons
Naturally, Guernsey couldn’t allow private enterprise to keep control of such a vital resource as its electricity supply. So, in 1938, when slightly less than 3000 customers had been connected, the States bought them as an island resource.
The station at Les Amballes eventually closed down, and the St Sampson site extended and upgraded. Its operating capacity has grown with the addition of new generators and a whole new hall to house them in. It is supplemented by undersea cables between Guernsey and Jersey. Known as the Channel Islands Electricity Grid these link to France, and provide the majority of the electricity that Guernsey needs day to day.