Duke Energy Brings Power to the Piedmont

Benjamin Newton Duke. Image courtesy of Duke University

Benjamin Newton Duke. Image courtesy of Duke University

On June 22, 1905, the Southern Power Company was incorporated in New Jersey by Benjamin and James Duke—sons of tobacco industrialist Washington Duke—and two partners. Southern Power changed its name to Duke Power in 1924, and then became Duke Energy in 1997 after merging with another company.

The company can trace its origins to the 1890s, when the Duke Brothers began to experiment with generating electricity. Its first power station, on the Catawba River, was established in 1900 to power textile mills near Rock Hill, S.C. Duke Power originally focused on generating electricity for industrial customers and didn’t initially intend to service residential customers. It wasn’t long, though, before local pressures from the Charlotte region, upstate South Carolina and the Triad drew the company into the residential business.

Duke Power’s early advances in harnessing hydroelectric power and connecting existing electrical grids played an important role in the industrialization of North Carolina’s Piedmont.  The company today is a diversified utility and pipeline company that is listed in the Fortune 500 and provides service to customers across the Southeast and Midwest.

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