Philadelphia Electric Company

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The Philadelphia Electric Company was incorporated under the laws of Pennsylvania on October 31, 1929, as a merger of The Philadelphia Electric Company (incorporated in Pa. on October 27, 1902), the Philadelphia Suburban-Counties Gas & Electric Company, and three other small utility companies. It is the primary gas and electric company for Philadelphia, its surrounding counties and Cecil and Harford Counties in northeastern Maryland.

After the invention of electric lighting systems in the late 1870s, several companies were formed in Philadelphia. The first was the Brush Electric Light Company of Philadelphia, formed by Thomas Dolan and others for the purpose of lighting Chestnut Street in March 1881 and utilizing the Brush arc light system. The Maxim Electric Light & Power Company was formed in September 1881 by Martin Maloney, William L. Elkins, Peter A. B. Widener, William G. Warden and others to use the systems invented by Hiram S. Maxim and Edward Weston. It was soon named the United States Electric Lighting Company of Philadelphia and set up isolated plants to provide electricity to specific buildings. In 1885 the "Electric Trust" was formed for the purpose of consolidating the Brush and United States companies, and over the next ten years the Trust began to acquire some twenty small companies organized to serve specific areas of Philadelphia County.

The Edison Electric Light Company of Philadelphia was organized in December 1886 by Samuel B. Huey and William D. Marks with the backing of the Edison Electric Light Company of New York. The company used the Edison system and constructed what was then the largest central generating station in the world in 1889. By 1895 the Edison company was the largest and most profitable electric company in the city.

Martin Maloney organized the Pennsylvania Heat, Light & Power Company in February 1895 to promote the Siemens system. In 1896 it acquired the stock of the Edison company and then purchased the Electric Trust. In February 1898 Maloney organized the Pennsylvania Heat, Light & Power Company and proceeded to buy up the remaining independents. Another holding company, the National Electric Company, was formed in May 1899 and began buying utility companies in Philadelphia and Delaware Counties.

The Philadelphia Electric Company was incorporated under the laws of New Jersey on October 5, 1899, for the purpose of merging the National and and Pennsylvania Manufacturing, Light & Power Companies. In 1901 it acquired the Kensington Electric Company, the last independent in the city. A separate "The Philadelphia Electric Company" was incorporated in Pennsylvania on October 27, 1902, to act as a single operating subsidiary. Under the presidency of Joseph B. McCall (1870-1926) it imposed uniformity on the patchwork quilt of local companies and introduced the alternating current system. It also arranged to supply power to the Philadelphia Rapid Transit Company, operating the city's streetcars and subways, and the Pennsylvania Railroad electrifications beginning in 1913.

In 1911 the reform mayor Rudolph L. Blankenberg appointed Morris Llewellyn Cooke as Director of Public Works. Cooke, a Progressive advocate of public ownership of utilities, began a campaign against Philadelphia Electric. Partly as a result, the New Jersey corporation was dissolved on November 19, 1917, and The Philadelphia Electric Company became the parent firm. Large central stations were built at Chester (1918), on the Delaware River near Penn Treaty Park (1920) and Richmond (1925).

In 1923 the company's bankers, Drexel & Co., purchased the Susquehanna Power Company of Maryland, which had acquired rights to build a hydroelectric dam on the Susquehanna River at Conowingo. It was turned over to the Philadelphia Electric Power Company, a Philadelphia Electric subsidiary, and the dam was completed in 1928. In 1927, Philadelphia Electric formed the Susquehanna Utilities Company to operate six local electric companies in southeastern Pennsylvania and northeastern Maryland associated with the Conowingo project. The Philadelphia Electric Company, Pennsylvania Power & Light and the Public Service Electric & Gas Company of New Jersey formed the first interconnected power grid in 1928-1931.

Under McCall, Philadelphia Electric made no attempt to expand beyond its original service area. In 1928, after McCall's death, control of the company passed to the United Gas Improvement Company, a Philadelphia-based national utility holding company long associated with Philadelphia Electric. UGI also controlled a number of gas and electric companies serving the northern and western suburbs which had been consolidated into the Philadelphia Suburban-Counties Gas & Electric Company. Philadelphia Suburban-Counties were merged into Philadelphia Electric in 1929. Under orders from the SEC, United Gas Improvment Company divested itself of Philadelphia Electric in 1941.

From the description of Records, 1836-1953 (bulk 1890-1915) [microform]. (Hagley Museum & Library). WorldCat record id: 122457353

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Philadelphia Electric Company. [Pamphlets. Financial history.]. Yale University Library
referencedIn Phoenix Bridge Company. Records, 1874-1963. Hagley Museum & Library
creatorOf Philadelphia Electric Company. Records, 1836-1953 (bulk 1890-1915) [microform]. Hagley Museum & Library
referencedIn North Brothers Manufacturing Company. Records, 1879-1947. Hagley Museum & Library
referencedIn Parsons, Hinsdill, 1864-1912. Hinsdill Parsons papers, 1890-1912. University at Albany, University Libraries
referencedIn Lukens Steel Company. Executive officer files, 1903-1979. Hagley Museum & Library
creatorOf Philadelphia Electric Company. Correspondence with Edgar Fahs Smith, 1911. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
creatorOf Philadelphia Electric Company. Pamphlets, n.d. Hagley Museum & Library
referencedIn Viteles, Morris S. (Morris Simon), 1898-1996. Morris S. Viteles papers, 1921-1980. University of Akron, Bierce Library
referencedIn Wilmington Trust Company. Trust Dept. Investment analysis files ("N-P"), 1909-1959 (bulk 1931-1954). Hagley Museum & Library
referencedIn R. Guastavino Company. Philadelphia Electric Co., Philadelphia, Pa. [graphic] : [detail drawing of vault in sections and plan] / R. Guastavino Co. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn Sachs, Alexander, 1893-1973. Papers, 1874-1973. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn Phillips, Walter Massey, 1912-1985. Papers, 1927-1978. Temple University Libraries, Paley Library
referencedIn Robert Wetherill & Company. Letterpress copybooks, 1882-1916. Hagley Museum & Library
referencedIn Cooke, Morris Llewellyn, 1872-1960. Papers, 1910-1959. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn Bailey, E. G. (Ervin George), 1880-1974. Papers, 1908-1991. Hagley Museum & Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Abington Electric Company (Montgomery County, Pa.). corporateBody
associatedWith Ambler Electric Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Ambler Gas Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Aston Electric Light, Heat and Power Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Atglen Gas Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Bailey, E. G. (Ervin George), 1880-1974. person
associatedWith Bala and Merion Electric Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Beacon Light Company (Pa.). corporateBody
associatedWith Bensalem Light, Heat and Power Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Bristol Gas Light Company (Pa.). corporateBody
associatedWith Bristol Light, Heat and Power Company (Pa.). corporateBody
associatedWith Bryn Athyn Electric Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Bryn Athyn Gas Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Bucks County Electric Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Bucks County Public Service Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Chalfont Electric Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Cheltenham Electric Light, Heat and Power Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Chester County Gas Company (Pa.). corporateBody
associatedWith Chester County Light and Power Company (Pa.). corporateBody
associatedWith Chester Electric Light and Power Company (Pa.). corporateBody
associatedWith Chester Gas Company (Pa.). corporateBody
associatedWith Chester Valley Electric Company (Pa.). corporateBody
associatedWith Chester Valley Electric Light, Heat and Power Company (Pa.). corporateBody
associatedWith Citizens Electric Light and Power Company of Delaware County (Pa.). corporateBody
associatedWith Coatesville Electric Light, Heat and Power Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Coatesville Gas Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Collegeville Gas Company (Pa.). corporateBody
associatedWith Conowingo Bridge Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Conowingo Electric Light and Power Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Conshohocken Gas Light Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Consolidated Schuylkill Gas Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Cooke, Morris Llewellyn, 1872-1960. person
associatedWith Counties Gas and Electric Company (Pa.). corporateBody
associatedWith Delaware County Electric Company (Pa.). corporateBody
associatedWith Delaware River Manufacturing Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Delta Electric Light Company (Pa.). corporateBody
associatedWith Delta Water Power Company (Pa.). corporateBody
associatedWith Diamond Electric Company (Pa.) corporateBody
associatedWith Dolan, Thomas, 1834-1914. person
associatedWith Doylestown Electric Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Doylestown Gas Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Easttown Township Light Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Edison Electric Illuminating Company (West Chester, Pa.). corporateBody
associatedWith Electric Realty Corporation. corporateBody
associatedWith Electric Trust (Philadelphia, Pa.). corporateBody
associatedWith Elkins, William L. 1832-1903. person
associatedWith Eureka Light, Heat and Power Company (Pa.) corporateBody
associatedWith Hatboro Electric Light Company (Pa.). corporateBody
associatedWith Haverford Electric Light Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Havre de Grace Electric Company of Harford County. corporateBody
associatedWith Home Manufacturing Light and Power Company (Pa.). corporateBody
associatedWith Huntingdon Valley Light and Power Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Jenkintown and Cheltenham Gas Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Kensington Electric Company (Philadelphia, Pa.). corporateBody
associatedWith Langhorne Electric Light and Power Company (Pa.). corporateBody
associatedWith Lower Merion Gas Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Lukens Steel Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Maloney, Martin, 1847-1929. person
associatedWith McCall, Joseph B., 1870-1926. person
associatedWith Media Gas Company (Pa.). corporateBody
associatedWith Merion and Radnor Gas and Electric Company. corporateBody
associatedWith National Electric Company (Pa.). corporateBody
associatedWith New Hope Electric Company. (Pa.). corporateBody
associatedWith Newtown Square Electric Light and Power Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Norristown Electric Light and Power Company (Pa). corporateBody
associatedWith Norristown Gas Company (Pa.). corporateBody
associatedWith North Brothers Manufacturing Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Northern Electric Light and Power Company (Pa.). corporateBody
associatedWith Overbrook Electric Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Parkesburg Gas Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Parsons, Hinsdill, 1864-1912. person
associatedWith Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station (Pa.). corporateBody
associatedWith Peach Bottom Water and Power Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Penn Electric Light Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Pennsylvania Heat, Light and Power Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Pennsylvania Manufacturing, Light and Power Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Philadelphia Electric Lighting Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Philadelphia Steam Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Philadelphia Suburban-Counties Gas and Electric Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Philadelphia Suburban Gas and Electric Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Philadelphia Suburban Gas Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Phillips, Walter Massey, 1912-1985. person
associatedWith Phoenix Bridge Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Pottstown Light, Heat and Power Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Powelton Electric Company. corporateBody
associatedWith R. Guastavino Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Robert Wetherill & Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Sachs, Alexander, 1893-1973. person
associatedWith Schuylkill Valley Illuminating Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Southern Electric Light and Power Company (Pa.). corporateBody
associatedWith Southern Pennsylvania Power Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Suburban Electric Company (Pa.). corporateBody
associatedWith Susquehanna Construction Company of Baltimore City. corporateBody
associatedWith Susquehanna Power and Paper Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Susquehanna Utilities Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Susquehanna Water Power and Paper Company of Harford County. corporateBody
associatedWith Tide Water Canal Company. corporateBody
associatedWith United States Electric Lighting Company of Philadelphia. corporateBody
associatedWith Viteles, Morris S. (Morris Simon), 1898-1996. person
associatedWith Wayne Electric Light Company (Pa.). corporateBody
associatedWith West Conshohocken Gas Light Company. corporateBody
associatedWith West End Electric Company of Philadelphia. corporateBody
associatedWith Widener, P. A. B. 1834-1915. person
associatedWith Wilmington Trust Company. Trust Dept. corporateBody
associatedWith Wissahickon Electric Company. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
York County (Pa.)
Conowingo Dam (Md.)
Pennsylvania
Cecil County (Md.)
Susquehanna River
Maryland
Delaware County (Pa.)
Montgomery County (Pa.)
Maryland--Conowingo
Conowingo Dam (Md.)
Susquehanna River
Bucks County (Pa.)
Harford County (Md.)
Philadelphia (Pa.)
Chester County (Pa.)
Subject
Electric power
Dams
Electric lighting, Arc
Electric utilities--Law and legislation
Bridges
Consolidation and merger of corporations
Toll bridges
Gas companies
Electric industries
Nuclear power plants
Public utility holding companies
Gas manufacture and works
Gas-lighting
Public Utilities
Canals
Electric lighting, Incandescent
Gas industry
Municipal lighting
Electric utilities
Hydroelectric power plants
Occupation
Function

Corporate Body

Information

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