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Southern Connecticut Gas Company

Southern Connecticut Gas Company


855 Main Street
Bridgeport, Connecticut 06604
U.S.A.
Telephone: (203) 382-8111
Toll Free: (866) 268-2887
Fax: (203) 382-8120
Web site: http://www.soconngas.com

Wholly Owned Subsidiary of Energy East Corporation
Incorporated: 1847
Employees: 450
Sales: $127 million
NAIC: 221210 Natural Gas Distribution

Based in the city of Bridgeport, Southern Connecticut Gas Company (SCG) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Energy East Corporation. It supplies natural gas to some 165,000 customers in Connecticut's Fairfield, Middlesex, and New Haven counties.

SCG has a unique distribution system that provides it with considerable distribution flexibility. In addition to having access to more than ten pipeline systems via its affiliation with the East Coast Natural Gas Co-Op, the company has direct connections to Western Canadian, Gulf Coast, and Mid-Continent underground storage facilities and supply basins.

TURNING ON THE GAS: 18471900

Southern Connecticut Gas Company's roots stretch back to 1847, when the State of Connecticut approved a charter for the New Haven City Gas Light Company. Residents of the day referred to the new enterprise as "The Gas." During its early years, the company operated a manufacturing facility on New Haven's John Street that produced gas from coal. Later on, in the mid-1880s, the company also produced carbureted water gas.

The New Haven City Gas Light Company's first residential customer was Yale University Professor Benjamin Silliman, Jr., one of six citizens who helped to secure its charter. Silliman first used gas service in his Hillhouse Avenue home on Thanksgiving of 1848. That same year, a book store named Durrier & Peck became the company's first commercial customer. In only two years, annual sales of natural gas exceeded 5 million cubic feet.

By 1849 the concept of using gas for lighting purposes had spread to the town of Bridgeport, Connecticut, where the Bridgeport Gas Light Company was formed on April 22, with a capitalization of $75,000. According to an article in the May 17, 1940, issue of the Bridgeport Times-Star, "Women were at the bottom of the original movement to form a gas company in Bridgeport. The good ladies in their mansions on Golden Hill grew indignant at the fuss of making candles or trimming oil lamps at a time when gas had been in use in other cities for some years."

After two years of operation, Bridgeport Gas served 76 customers and illuminated lamps on 26 public streets from a plant on Housatonic Ave. Through 1901, the company's first presidents included Henry K. Harral, Hanford Lyon, Amos S. Treat, and William R. Rigby.

Initially, many citizens resisted the use of gas to light city streets and homes. On theological grounds, some argued that God meant for it to be dark at night, and that the use of gas for illumination interfered with His divine plan. Police were concerned that theft would increase, and that horses would be frightened. Others argued that illness would rise, as people caught colds by staying out in the night air. Moral opponents foresaw an uptick in drunkenness, and some citizens simply felt that lighted streets would take the charm away from festive occasions.

Despite these concerns, the demand for gas skyrocketed. By 1859 the energy source was being used to power gas ovens, hatters' irons, toasters, laundry stoves, dry stoves, bathroom stoves, and gas furnaces. Before long, the New Haven Gas Light Company outgrew its original facility, which was replaced by a new plant in 1860. Located at Chapel and East Streets, the new plant had the capacity to produce some 500,000 cubic feet of coal gas. The company also sold gas lamps from a showroom on Crown Street.

The market for gas continued to grow into the late 1800s. In 1886 a new competitor called Citizens Gas emerged in Bridgeport. Its founders included P. T. Barnum, the famous showman and circus promoter, and Dr. I. DeVer Warner. By 1897 Charles F. Deitrich served as president of the company, which had built a gas plant on ten acres of land near the winter quarters of Barnum & Bailey. Offices and an appliance showroom were maintained in the city's Masonic Temple Building.

A newspaper article published in an 1897 issue of the Sunday World shed light on the important role Citizens played in establishing gas service in Bridgeport, explaining that some 300 men worked to lay more than 30 miles of 16-inch pipe throughout the city that year alone.

During the last decade of the 19th century, gas was being widely used for cooking purposes (gas ranges were introduced in 1899). In fact, cooking gas became the main market for gas when electricity became the primary power source for lighting. Gas also found growing use for space and water heating, as well as industrial and commercial use. These developments all helped to bolster the industry as it moved into the 1900s.

EARLY GROWTH: 190166

An important development occurred in 1901, when Bridgeport Gas Light acquired Citizens Gas. Dr. I. DeVer Warner served as company president from 1901 to 1913. DeVer H. Warner held the leadership position next, serving until 1921. Warner was succeeded by Frank M. Travis, who served as president until 1928.

Consumer applications for gas continued to emerge during the early 20th century. Gas was being used for clothes drying by 1910, and gas refrigeration was introduced in 1915. To take advantage of this trend, both New Haven Gas and Bridgeport Gas opened retail appliance showrooms during the early 1900s.

Bridgeport Gas moved into a new, two-story, brick headquarters at Main and Gilbert Streets in 1924. The facility included a showroom, clerical cages made of marble and bronze, marble stairways, African mahogany woodwork, and polished plate glass windows. Its steam radiators were heated by gas-powered boilers with thermostats, making it the city's first downtown commercial building with centralized heating. Ten years later, Bridgeport Gas expanded its retail presence by acquiring the Gas Appliance Exchange at 799 Main Street.

Developments also continued at New Haven Gas. In 1926 the company began receiving gas that was manufactured by the Connecticut Coke Company. The company increased its market scope in 1927, adding service for an area that ranged from Branford to the Housatonic River in Devon.

COMPANY PERSPECTIVES


Southern is a well established company with an excellent track record. We have been in the business for more than 150 years, delivering competitively priced natural gas energy to manufacturers, commercial and industrial customers, and all other natural gas markets.

George S. Hawley served as Bridgeport Gas' president from 1928 to 1954. A 1939 letter from Hawley to the company's customers, reproduced on SCG's web site, provides a brief glimpse into the firm's role during the difficult World War II years. In the letter, Hawley wrote: "I never thought that I should be called upon to ask you and our more than 45,000 other friendly customers to use less gas. The Gas Industry today is at the highest peak of all-time-greatest activity, greatest sales, and greatest progress in research and development. And now here I come and ask you to use less gas to help those who are fighting this gigantic and terrible war on all fronts. They must have guns and ammunition, airplanes and parachutes, all of which are made right here by our Bridgeport workers. In order to manufacture them, they must have gas in great quantities for fuel. The government has declared gas to be a vital war necessity. Without it war industries would be paralyzed."

After the war, Bridgeport Gas turned its attention to revamping the company's distribution facilities. These efforts positioned the company to shift from the provision of manufactured gas to natural gas in 1952, at which time supply pipelines from the southwestern United States reached New England. Following the introduction of natural gas, residential, commercial, and industrial demand continued to grow. This prompted Bridgeport Gas to expand its service area even further, adding service for shoreline towns from Westport to Stratford.

Ronald A. Maloney served as Bridgeport Gas' president from 1954 to 1967. Beyond the shift to natural gas, a number of important developments took place during his leadership term. In 1955 the company modernized and shortened its name, changing it from Bridgeport Gas Light to Bridgeport Gas Company. Five years later, Maloney oversaw the construction of a liquid propane plant at Reservoir Avenue in the town of Trumbull. Finally, Maloney was at the helm in 1962 when a fire destroyed the company's Housatonic Avenue appliance warehouse and service headquarters.

EXPANSION AND MODERNIZATION: 196799

Southern Connecticut Gas was established in 1967, when Bridgeport Gas merged with New Haven Gas Light. Clarence C. Manley was named president of the combined company. A permit for the construction of a new, four-story headquarters was obtained in January 1967, and construction quickly began.

Built at a cost of nearly $2 million, SCG's new facility was completed in 1969. Located at 880 Broad Street in Bridgeport, the building was unique in that it generated its own power supply from natural gas. Along with a change in location, SCG experienced another leadership change in 1969, when Richard H. Bowerman was named president.

In addition to its new headquarters, SCG maintained a service center at 39 Pine Street in Bridgeport. In New Haven, the company kept an administrative office at 55 Church Street, along with a service center at 347 Chapel Street. Other noteworthy physical expansion efforts included the erection of a liquefied natural gas plant in 1972. Built in the town of Milford, the plant was used to store large quantities of compressed natural gas.

By the early 1970s, the United States faced an energy crisis. This affected SCG when its supply of gas was reduced. According to the company, other difficulties included skyrocketing inflation and high interest rates, a drop in foreign oil supplies, as well as artificial price controls on natural gas. John R. Hungerford, named president in 1972, led the company during this challenging period.

SCG took a proactive approach to secure gas supplies for its customers during the second half of the 1970s. This was achieved through exploration and production efforts in Ohio and New York. These activities were carried out by unregulated subsidiaries the company established. In 1979 a holding company called Connecticut Energy Corp. was formed to serve as SCG's parent and separate its unregulated and regulated activities.

During the early 1980s, the company worked in partnership with other firms in the Northeast to secure a natural gas pipeline from Canada to New England. Success was eventually realized in 1992, when Canada's Iroquois Pipeline began supplying gas to the state of Connecticut. It also was during the early 1980s that the company helped to reduce gas consumption by conducting industrial and commercial energy audits.

KEY DATES


1847:
The State of Connecticut approves a charter for the New Haven City Gas Light Company.
1849:
The Bridgeport Gas Light Company is formed on April 22, with a capitalization of $75,000.
1886:
P. T. Barnum and Dr. I. DeVer Warner form Citizens Gas in Bridgeport.
1901:
Bridgeport Gas Light acquires Citizens Gas.
1967:
Bridgeport Gas merges with New Haven Gas Light to form the Southern Connecticut Gas Company.
1979:
Connecticut Energy Corporation is formed as a holding company for Southern Connecticut Gas in order to separate its unregulated and regulated activities.
2000:
Connecticut Energy merges with Energy East Corporation, a publicly traded energy services and delivery firm; Southern Connecticut Gas becomes a wholly owned subsidiary of Energy East.

SCG continued on a pathway of growth and expansion during the mid-1980s. Its territory increased to include service for 22 Connecticut communities, including Branford, Bridgeport, Clinton, East Haven, Easton, Fairfield, Guilford, Hamden, Madison, Milford, New Haven, North Branford, North Haven, Old Saybrook, Orange, Stratford, Trumbull, West Haven, Westbrook, Weston, Westport, and Woodbridge.

In 1993 SCG moved into a new headquarters facility at 855 Main Street in Bridgeport. After centralizing its operations center in Orange, Connecticut, in 1994, several new subsidiaries were formed. In order to provide a range of energy commodities to the commercial and industrial markets of New York and New England, CNE Energy Services Inc. was established. This was followed by CNE Development Corp., a natural gas enterprise that participated in a purchasing cooperative. Finally, in 1996 Connecticut Energy created CNE Venture-Tech as a means of investing in advanced energy-related products.

The late 1990s were marked by several major milestones. SCG celebrated 150 years of operations in 1997. The following year, a stretch of 16-inch gas distribution line spanning 11 miles was finished. The largest pipeline project in the company's history, the line delivered gas to Bridgeport Harbor, where it was used for a new, 520-megawatt electric generating station.

In the spring of 1999 Connecticut Energy filed an application with the Connecticut Department of Public Utility Control, seeking approval to merge with Energy East Corporation, a publicly traded energy services and delivery firm serving the Northeast. The merger was approved in December 1999, and SCG prepared to begin a new century under new ownership.

THE ENERGY EAST YEARS: 2000 AND BEYOND

On February 8, 2000, Connecticut Energy completed its merger with Energy East, and SCG became a wholly owned subsidiary of a leading energy company with two million customers, including 600,000 natural gas customers. SNG itself claimed a customer base of 160,000 customers in Connecticut's Middlesex, Fair-field, and New Haven counties. Several days after the merger, Energy East announced the retirement of Connecticut Energy Chairman, President, and CEO J. R. Crespo. SCG President and Chief Operating Officer Sal A. Ardigliano, a company employee since 1972, succeeded Crespo.

In order to improve customer service and compete with area oil companies, SCG implemented a range of new systems and technology during the early 2000s. It introduced a dispatching and field force automation system from BellSouth Wireless Data L.P., replacing an old system of paper and two-way radios with wireless modems and laptop computers. In addition, a three-year initiative to automate 172,600 gas meters was completed, thereby improving the company's ability to access and read meters.

SCG also stepped in to assist following the tragic terrorist attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001. A corporate donation program was established with a $10,000 gift to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. In addition, SCG served as a repository for equipment donated by other New England utility companies, including air packs used by rescue workers.

In late 2005 the Connecticut Department of Public Utility Control granted its preliminary approval for SCG to increase its rates by 8.4 percent in 2006. This benefited the company by allowing it to collect an additional $26.7 million from customers, including $3.3 million that was earmarked for hardship grants.

With Robert M. Allessio as president and CEO, SCG was on solid footing heading into the late 2000s. According to the company's web site, "The combination of strong traditional markets; aggressive expansion of emerging markets; pursuit of unregulated opportunities; and strict attention to cost controls have successfully strengthened Connecticut Energy Corporation's financial profile with a record of nine consecutive years of earnings growth."

Paul R. Greenland

PRINCIPAL COMPETITORS

Connecticut Light and Power Company; NewPower Holdings Inc.; Yankee Gas Services Company.

FURTHER READING

Baldwin, Bill, "Untitled," Bridgeport Times-Star, May 17, 1940.

"Connecticut Natural Gas and Southern Connecticut Gas Aid New York Recovery Efforts with Personnel, Equipment and Funds," Business Wire, September 27, 2001.

"Fuel Gas for Bridgeport. Hundreds of Men Engaged in Laying Miles of Big Mains," Sunday World, July 3, 1897.

"Gas Co. Granted Building Permit," Connecticut Post, January 28, 1967.

"Gas Company to Open New Office Building," Connecticut Post, August 2, 1968.

Grimaldi, Lennie, Only in Bridgeport: An Illustrated History of the Park City, Bridgeport, Conn.: Harbor Publishing, 1993, pp. 276277.

Grosner, Richard J., "Gas Utility Deploys 172,600 AMR Units in Three Years," Pipe Line & Gas Industry, August 2001.

Hamblen, Matt, "Competition Sends Utility to Wireless Data System," Computerworld, May 29, 2000.

"Historical Perspective, the Southern Connecticut Gas Company," Bridgeport: Southern Connecticut Gas Co., 2006.

"Southern Connecticut Gas Company," RCR-Radio Communications Report, April 10, 2000.

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