Con Edison Celebrates 200 Years Of Energizing New York
Company Builds on Two Centuries of Innovation with Commitment to Lead New York’s Clean Energy Transition
Con Edison is celebrating its 200th anniversary, marking two centuries of powering everything New York, from the iconic city skyline and the lights of Times Square, to the to the millions of homes, restaurants, hotels, and other businesses that make New York a 24/7 global destination.
Building on its track record of innovation, Con Edison is making historic investments in clean energy technologies that will help New York meet our climate goals and deliver 100 percent clean energy by 2040.
“Con Edison’s history is New York’s history – a story of relentless ingenuity, achievement and resilience,” said Tim Cawley, Con Edison’s chairman and chief executive. "Yet for all our history, I believe the most exciting chapter is the one unfolding now. Our commitment to lead the clean energy transition will benefit our customers and all New Yorkers.”
“Congratulations to Con Edison on two centuries of keeping our city running,” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams. “And a big thank you to the essential workers of Con Edison, who are on the job 24/7 to ensure New Yorkers are safe and comfortable in their homes, tourists are able to enjoy the lights of Times Square, our hospitals are performing life-saving work, and businesses are bustling in all five boroughs. The city looks forward to continued partnership as we build the energy infrastructure of the future, by cutting New York City emissions and bolstering a clean, reliable, and resilient grid.”
“For 200 years, the talented people at Con Edison have provided us with the reliable energy service that makes it possible for New York to be a 24/7 world-class destination,” said Steven Rubenstein, Chairman of the Association for a Better New York. “Now these fellow New Yorkers are meeting the challenge of climate change by leading our region to a clean energy future in which we power our homes, businesses, and vehicles with electricity from renewable sources. We thank Con Edison for two centuries of contributions to making New York the world’s greatest city.”
“For 200 years, Con Edison has played a vital role in the development and growth of New York City and the metropolitan region, said Tom Wright, president, and chief executive officer of Regional Plan Association (RPA). “Their important work on climate adaptation and resiliency is just as important to our future as their storied history. RPA is proud to congratulate our strong civic partner on this milestone and we look forward to continuing to work with Con Edison on issues that will strengthen our communities and shape the future of this city and region for the next two centuries and more.”
“New York City is proud to be home to Con Edison, which has been at the forefront of discovery and innovation in the global energy industry throughout the past two centuries and provides our region with a reliable and forward-looking electrical distribution system that is essential to our continued growth,” stated Kathryn Wylde, President & CEO of the Partnership for New York City.
An Economic Powerhouse for New York
Today, Con Edison ranks among the largest U.S. energy companies, supplying energy to 10 million people in the New York City region and serving as an anchor for the local economy. The company employs nearly 14,000 people and supports one in every 200 jobs in New York City and Westchester County. Con Edison is the longest continuously listed company on the New York Stock Exchange.
Con Edison was founded in 1823 as a gas lighting company and went on to establish the model for what became the modern electric utility. Among many innovations, the company built the country’s first true power grid using the Pearl Street Station in lower Manhattan, which delivered electric service to an entire neighborhood.
The “First District”
Among those early electric customers was The New York Times, which wrote at the time that its new electric lighting service was “a hundred times steadier” than gas.”
By the 1890s, electric service had spread to other parts of New York City, driven by the innovations and ambitions of trailblazers such as Nikola Tesla, George Westinghouse, and Lewis Latimer.
The Consolidated Edison Co. of New York took its current name in 1936, the year the Yankees won the World Series with rookie Joe DiMaggio roaming the outfield. Ten years later, in 1946, Joltin’ Joe played his first night game under the lights in the House that Ruth built.
Building a Clean Energy Grid
Con Edison’s focus today is building a climate-resilient energy system that will run primarily on renewables, while maintaining the reliability that New Yorkers count on.
The company is building transmission lines to carry renewable power throughout New York City, preparing its grid for a coming influx of offshore wind, and facilitating the buildout of customer-owned resources such as rooftop solar and battery energy storage.
At the same time, Con Edison is laying the groundwork for a surge in electric vehicle ownership. The company has supported the installation of nearly 3,000 charge points, with a goal of 19,000 by 2025 – and 1 million by 2050. The company plans to support the conversion of at least 150,000 buildings to electric heating systems by 2030.
Energy efficiency is another key piece in New York’s clean energy puzzle. Breaking with traditional utility marketing efforts, Con Edison has been a pioneer in helping customers adopt appliances and technologies that conserve energy, and the company continues to scale up its investments in energy efficiency.
To learn more about the history of New York City’s energy system, visit Con Edison Bicentennial-Photos.
From Gas Streetlights to a Clean Energy Future
Here’s a timeline of the famous company’s humble beginnings as a small gas company and rise to one of the country’s largest energy providers.
March 26, 1823 – In the same year that President James Monroe’s famous doctrine warned European countries against interference with Western Hemisphere affairs, the New York State legislature granted a charter to the New York Gas Light Co. The upstart company focused on street lighting in an area of Lower Manhattan.
May 12, 1823 – The company and the city reached an agreement that required the company’s gas to produce light of a quality, brilliancy and intensity to equal the gas in use for the public lamps in the City of London.”
May 1880 – New York City’s major gas companies agreed on a price for the fuel and to cease building mains that competed with those of another company. This took the edge off the fierce battles for customers among rival “gas house gangs” that sometimes played out in the streets.
March 3, 1882 – The New York Steam Co. began service in Lower Manhattan. Con Edison bought the system in 1936 and today operates the largest district system in the country.
September 4, 1882 – Thomas Edison started up his electric generating station on Pearl Street in Lower Manhattan, sending direct current power to customers in a quarter-square-mile area. That power plant was the source of the first true electric grid in the country.
November 1884 - Executives from the New York, Manhattan, Harlem, Metropolitan, Municipal, and Knickerbocker Gas Light companies gathered at Manhattan Gas Light's 4 Irving Place building (now Con Edison's headquarters) and agreed to combine their businesses into the Consolidated Gas Co. of New York.
September 16, 1962 – Con Edison placed a 275-megawatt nuclear reactor into service in Buchanan, N.Y. The company sold the Indian Point complex in 2001 as part of the state’s plan to deregulate wholesale electricity markets.
November 9, 1965 – Faulty equipment at a generating station in Ontario, Canada, caused a power surge, which led to a blackout in several Northeastern states. In New York City, 800,000 subway riders were trapped, traffic backed up throughout the city and John F. Kennedy and LaGuardia airports were closed.
April 23, 1974 – Facing soaring fuel costs amid an Arab oil embargo, Con Edison announced it was suspending its quarterly dividend, the first such action since the company began paying a dividend in 1885. The suspension lasted only one quarter.
July 13, 1977 – A blackout caused by lightning strikes in Westchester County affected most of New York City.
May 11, 1998 – Con Edison Inc. agreed to a $790 million purchase of Orange and Rockland Utilities. The purchase brings 273,600 electric customers and 107,000 gas customers in Orange, Rockland, and Sullivan counties, as well as in northern New Jersey and northeastern Pennsylvania.
September 11, 2001 – Con Edison crews responded to the disaster zone caused by the attack on the World Trade Center while the Twin Towers were still standing. Two electric substations were destroyed when 7 World Trade Center collapsed. Company workers toiled around the clock, some not going home for days, to restore temporary service.
August 14, 2003 – A blackout that began in Ohio cascaded into eight Northeastern states and into Canada, affecting about 55 million people, making it the second largest blackout in history at the time. Power was restored to parts of NYC within seven hours. Power was not restored to the entire city until the following night.
October 29, 2012 – Superstorm Sandy made landfall at the Battery and rampaged northward, causing 1 million customers to lose electrical service. Flooding caused Manhattan to go dark from 40th Street to the Battery on the East Side and winds destroyed the overhead delivery system in Westchester County.
November 10, 2017 – The first crews from Con Edison and Orange & Rockland arrived in Puerto Rico to help restore power on the island battered by Hurricane Maria. The companies would send hundreds of workers, along with utility vehicles, to the island in the coming months to help their fellow Americans.
March 1, 2023 – Con Edison Inc. completed the $6.8 billion sale of its Clean Energy Businesses to German-based RWE Renewables Americas, LLC. The company said the sale would allow it to concentrate on its core utility businesses and building a clean energy future in the New York region.
Con Edison is a subsidiary of Consolidated Edison, Inc. [NYSE: ED], one of the nation’s largest investor-owned energy companies, with approximately $16 billion in annual revenues and $69 billion in assets, as of December 31, 2022. The utility delivers electricity, natural gas and steam, and serves 3.5 million customers in New York City and Westchester County. For financial, operations and customer service information, visit conEd.com. For energy efficiency information, visit coned.com/energyefficiency.