NYSEG (New York State Electric and Gas Corporation) can trace its history back to the 1850s when six businessmen from Ithaca put down a total of $75,000 to establish the Ithaca Gas Company. Over the next seven decades the company went through various changes and developments (including being known as Ithaca Gas & Electric; New York State Gas and Electric, Associated Gas & Electric, and by 1929 was dubbed New York State Electric & Gas Corporation). By 1937 it had solidified to reach around 35 percent of the state which is where it stands today too.
During the early years, while NYSEG grew, it sought additional power sources and improved billing methods so larger steam generating plants were acquired and metering installed. For example, methane gas usage grew steadily; street lighting expanded and service extended from only evening to 24 hours a day. Diesel and coal-fired generators were built. Politically, the holding company General Public Utilities Corporation had ultimate control even though it was NYSEG that was dealing with the day-to-day running of the business. This changed in 1949 when General Public Utilities Corporation sold all its 880,000 company shares to the public which rendered NYSG an independent, investor-owned utility. More building and development took place and by 1960 revenues exceeded $100 million.
Significant changes and developments continue to transpire over the next 50 years and by the 1990s NYSEG started focusing on assisting indigent or disabled customers navigate the social welfare system and obtain aid to pay their electric bills.” The company then assessed its growth potential with the ‘NYSEG 2000: A Vision for the Future’ program. It thereafter assessed its potential and decided to target the natural gas business. Later on the strategy was to develop: “aggressive marketing, emphasis on adding new franchises and various service activities closely related to natural gas distribution, coupled with a continued effort to reduce purchased natural gas costs.”