Progress Energy Marks 100th Anniversary
When Progress Energy's predecessor, Carolina Power & Light, was formed a century ago, the company's customers -- including 983 in all of Raleigh -- paid a base rate of $1 per month minimum or 15 cents per kilowatt-hour, with discounts for prompt payment.
Electricity from the company's two small plants, totaling less than 2 megawatts, powered little more than a few downtown trolleys and incandescent bulbs. In Raleigh and Sanford, street lights came on for a short period after sundown and briefly again before dawn, barring frequent system breakdowns.
The company's headquarters consisted of three small offices on the second floor of 7 W. Martin St. in Raleigh.
From those humble beginnings, Progress Energy has grown into a Fortune 250 energy company serving 3.1 million customers in the Carolinas and Florida. And as the company reached the landmark anniversary July 13, it commemorated its first century by reaffirming its commitment to service and partnership through 100 community service projects.
"The great men and women who have shaped Progress Energy over the years have always been proud of our company's roots and the critical role we play in all our communities," said Bill Johnson, chairman, CEO and president of Progress Energy. "Our 11,000 employees and their predecessors have never lost sight of the fact that our success is tied directly to the vitality of our service area.
"As we mark our first century of service, we remain committed to being a reliable source of energy -- not only electricity for our customers' homes and businesses, but also the kind of energy that helps build and sustain the communities we are privileged to serve."
As part of its celebration, Progress Energy employees began a "Summer of Service" initiative June 1, in which employees perform 100 community service projects in 100 days, through Sept. 8.
Events are being planned for local communities from Asheville to Wilmington, Henderson to Florence, S.C., and throughout Progress Energy Florida's service area. Nonprofit organizations in Progress Energy's service area can go to the following site to nominate projects for employee volunteer assistance: http://progress-energy.com/community/projectnomination.pdf.
Small-scale electric service was established in many Carolinas cities, towns and communities in the late 19th century.
Power companies formed and folded rapidly, and the new technology expanded slowly at first. Other than municipal uses, there were few applications available to average residents. Over time, consolidation and combination of generating and distribution systems brought many communities and regions together.
Carolina Power & Light (CP&L) was organized July 13, 1908, through the merger of three existing companies -- Raleigh Electric Co., Central Carolina Power Co. and Consumer Light & Power Co. -- and was owned by Electric Bond & Share Co.
In 1926, the company merged with the Yadkin River Power Co. of South Carolina, Asheville Power & Light Co., Pigeon River Power Co. and Carolina Power Co. The company continued to grow through mergers and acquisitions of small electric companies, municipally owned systems and service-area expansion.
In 1952, CP&L merged with Tide Water Power Co., which greatly increased the company's southeastern N.C. service area. The last major expansion occurred in 2000, when CP&L acquired Florida Progress Corp. (which had observed a century of service in Florida in 1999) to form the Progress Energy of today.
Progress Energy maintains a mix of power-generating resources, including nuclear plants, coal-, oil- and natural gas-fired plants and hydroelectric plants.
As Progress Energy's service areas continue to grow, the company is pursuing a balanced strategy for meeting future needs. That balance includes a strong commitment to energy efficiency, investments in renewable and alternative energy sources and state-of-the-art power plants, the company said in a news release.
"One hundred years ago, electricity was a novelty," Johnson said. "Today, it is an absolute necessity for virtually all aspects of our lives. The energy industry, our company and our service area have all changed dramatically in the last century, and the years ahead will bring even more significant changes to the ways we produce, deliver and use electricity.
"We are proud of our past but focused on the future and on providing real value for our customers every day. We're moving forward aggressively in pursuing promising new technologies, while maintaining our long-standing commitments to reliability, affordability and environmental responsibility."
Headquartered in Raleigh, Progress Energy has more than 21,000 megawatts of generation capacity and $9 billion in annual revenues.
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