The very first city to be lit with electricity was Bristol in England and it took place on 26th June 1881. In 1882, Ceylon, which was a colony of Britain, was able to witness electricity from the ship SS Helios which sailed into Colombo harbor. In 1890, the first electric bulb was lit with electricity in Ceylon, at the Billiard room in Bristol Hotel, Colombo Fort with the power generated by a diesel generator. There is proof that electricity was later on used around the island in plantation estates owned and maintained by the British.
In 1895, M/S Boustead Bros. made Sri Lanka's first public electricity supply available in Colombo. Colombo Electric Tram Ways and Lighting Company and Kandy Lighting Company met electrical needs in their own spheres in the first decade of 20th century. In 1918, Engineer D. J. Wimalasurendra, who late became the pioneer of electricity in Sri Lanka identified the hydro-power potential in the central hills of Sri Lanka through research.
1926 a separate department for electricity was established under the Deputy Director of Public Works Department and in order to meet the expanding demand, the government decided to set up a Thermal Power Station in 1928 and it was named after Sir Herbert Stanley.
In 1935, a two tier tariff system was introduced and in the same year, Electricity Board of Ceylon was established under the Electricity Board Ordinance No. 35 of 1935. But the board that commenced functioning from March 01st 1936 was dissolved in May 1937, and all its responsibilities, functions, commitments were transferred to Department of Government Electrical Undertakings.
In 1950, Laxapana Power Station was commissioned and this was followed by a myriad of electricity projects.On 01st November 1969, Ceylon Electricity Board was established under Parliament Act No. 17 of 1969.