A collection of papers authored by Ray W Orson, and covering a significant period of change in the UK’s Electricity Supply Industry (ESI), has recently been donated to the IET Archives.

Ray W Orson CBE sat on The Electricity Council, the governmental body set up in 1957 to oversee the Electricity Supply Industry in England and Wales. He was its Commercial Officer in the 1970s and 1980s, and was its expert on tariffs until he retired early in 1989. Ray continued to work in the electricity industry for a period before becoming visiting Professor at the University of Surrey.

The deposited papers are primarily reports and memoranda written by Ray Orson. He wrote these documents for The Electricity Council, the National Grid Company, the London Electricity Board and others, and they relate to financial / organisational aspects of the UK’s ESI and its privatisation which began in 1990 following the Electricity Act 1989. The majority of these papers come from the years in the run up to privatisation and during the first year of ESI privatisation in 1990. Topics covered in the reports include; economic pricing in electricity supply; the competitive market and capacity planning; and regulation of public utilities. One of the papers written in January 1989 for the London Electricity Board, on the subject of ‘the competitive market and capacity planning’ (archive reference SC MSS 266/15), is shown below;


Some of the most interesting documents are a series of 6 reports written by Ray Orson for the Spanish electricity company Iberduero through the later part of 1989 and up to 1992. Iberduero was to merge with Hidroeléctrica Española in 1992 to form the Spanish multinational company now known as Iberdrola. Orson provides a report for Iberduero on the ‘about-to-be-privatised’ electricity industry in February 1990, just a month before the new ESI structure was introduced on 31 March 1990. He goes on to provide reports dealing with the first few days and months of operation of the new structure in April 1990 and June 1990. The April 1990 report (archive reference SC MSS 266/31) is shown below;


The collection of papers (SC MSS 266) has been catalogued at item level i.e. each individual report has its own entry in the IET Archives online catalogue. It can be consulted at the IET Archive Centre, Savoy Hill House, by appointment.