PG&E Corporation - History

From our roots in the Gold Rush days in the Sierra foothills, to the post World War II population boom, to the development of clean, renewable energies for the 21st Century, PG&E is privileged to serve 15 million Californians.

1852

The San Francisco Gas Company is founded by Peter and James Donahue. Over the next half-century, the company merges with rival energy pioneers and competitors to form new companies, ultimately concluding in the merger of the San Francisco Gas and Electric Company and the California Gas and Electric Corporation to form Pacific Gas and Electric Company in 1905.


1854

Gas flows for the first time in San Francisco.


1879

George Roe creates the California Electric Light Company; begins operation of the first central generating station in the U.S. (and probably the world) to serve electric customers.


1895

A "Grand Electric Carnival" celebrates the launch of operation at the Folsom Powerhouse, the first ancestor of PG&E's current hydro system and the first to conquer the challenge of long-distance transmission. PG&E today operates the largest utility hydro system in the U.S., with 68 powerhouses and 174 dams stretching from Redding in the north to Bakersfield in the south.

1898

PG&E predecessors first pump water for irrigation in California. Electricity provided by PG&E and its predecessors would help make the emergence of California's agricultural industry possible.

1899

The Colgate power project sends power 61 miles from the Yuba River to Sacramento, where it drives the city's electric railway system. The length and high voltage of its transmission lines mark a major advance toward bringing power from the remote Sierras to people in the Bay Area and Central Valley. Engineers visit from all over the world to see how it's done.


1901

California Gas and Electric Corporation is formed, consolidating many smaller, scattered gas and electric operations.

1905

Pacific Gas and Electric Company is formed by the merger of the San Francisco Gas and Electric Company and the California Gas and Electric Corporation.

The company equipped a railway car for a traveling exhibit of rural electrification that included such modern conveniences as an ice-making machine, a motor-driven sewing machine and a cream separator.


1906

Earthquake and fire devastate San Francisco and much of Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s infrastructure, creating enormous engineering and financial challenges.


1912

PG&E completes the changeover from an outmoded flat-rate billing system to the installation of 116,000 meters to measure the electricity used by customers.

1920

"The aim of the Company has been to win the public good will by deserving the public good will." Spoken by Wigginton E. Creed, president of PG&E from 1920 to 1927.

In San Francisco, PG&E opens the first all-electric model home, equipped with dozens of newfangled appliances. Hundreds attend the opening and hundreds line up around the block day after day to see it.

The first interconnections between separate electric systems on the Pacific Coast began when a predecessor of PG&E linked with power lines in Oregon. A tie with San Joaquin Light and Power Company soon followed. PG&E later made interconnections with Southern California Edison Company and Sierra Pacific Power Company of Nevada, establishing the foundation for future exchanges of power in the West.


1930

In the Bay Area, PG&E begins delivering natural gas instead of gas manufactured from fuel oil. In preparation for the switch, PG&E crews complete a massive effort to adjust 1.75 million customer appliances. The project is finished with hardly any disruption of service.

1930s

PG&E's final major consolidation creates an integrated system across Northern California. Service continues to expand to rural areas, and by 1950, 98 percent of farms in the service area have electricity.


1945

In the years immediately following World War II, California experienced an extraordinary boom in housing, transportation, industry, agriculture and energy services. PG&E increased its workforce by one-third to serve the fast-growing, increasingly diverse communities spreading across the service area.

1946-1951

To match the needs created by the post-war boom, PG&E launches the greatest construction program ever undertaken by a U.S. utility. Population in the company's service area rises 40 percent between 1940 and 1946. In 1946 alone, 1,200 industries announce plans for new or expanded facilities in the utility's service area. The utility goes on to build 14 new hydro plants and five new steam plants, and add thousands of miles of power lines and new gas pipelines.


1948

PG&E constructs the 502-mile super-inch pipeline (the largest ever built at the time) to connect the gas fields of Texas and New Mexico with California. The line has to cross the Mojave Desert, the Tehachapi Mountains, the San Joaquin Valley and the Coastal Range Mountains.


1960

PG&E began to utilize computer technology and converts to electronic billing, processing 100,000 bills a day.

PG&E harnesses geothermal energy from The Geysers, a natural steam field located along the Sonoma and Lake County border. One of the world's largest producers of geothermal energy, The Geysers taps steam from molten rock formations deep in the earth to generate electricity.


1961

PG&E completes the 612-mile PGT Northwest Pipeline, which brings gas from Canada to Northern California.


1965

PG&E issues a formal policy statement on its employment practices, stating that it "employs people on the basis of individual merit and qualifications and promotes on the basis of performance, demonstrated ability and seniority, and it does so without regard to race, color, creed, national origin or ancestry in accordance with its needs for manpower and particular skills."

PG&E hires one of the few female meteorologists in the nation. Margaret Mooney, the first woman to ever serve in this capacity for a major utility company, supervised a team that made daily weather forecasts for the gas and electric operating departments and detailed studies of weather conditions at proposed nuclear power plant sites.


1970s

PG&E begins energy conservation programs, actively working to help its customers reduce the use of the company's product. PG&E would become one of the leading utilities in energy conservation, and remains so today.


1984

Diablo Canyon Power Plant goes online. Today it's among the nation's top- rated nuclear facilities in operational and safety performance.


1987

Learning and Training Centers for PG&E employees opened in San Ramon (1987) and Livermore (1992). These centers focus on improving employee skills and qualifications, sharpening management practices and helping all personnel understand the needs of customers in a competitive energy marketplace.


1989

Loma Prieta earthquake strikes San Francisco Bay Area, causing heavy damage to the utility's infrastructure. PG&E draws upon all its resources and restores service safely and rapidly.


1994

PG&E establishes telephone call centers in Sacramento, San Jose, Fresno and San Francisco to provide a wide range of services for customers throughout the service area.


1997

With California moving toward restructuring of its electric market, PG&E Corporation becomes the parent company for both Pacific Gas and Electric Company and a non-utility national energy business newly created to participate in the country's emerging competitive energy markets.

2000-2002

The California energy crisis, and energy conservation. PG&E helps customers achieve record levels of conservation, amid serious financial challenges that force the company to file for Chapter 11 reorganization.


2002-2011

Renewable Energy: Since 2002, PG&E has entered into more than 110 contracts to procure nearly 9,000 megawatts of renewable energy, including biomass and waste, geothermal, wind, small hydroelectric and solar. Under California’s renewable portfolio standard, PG&E now has contractual commitments for more than 20 percent of future renewable energy deliveries.


2005

"PG&E's success going forward will be defined by our relationship with the customer more than any other aspect of our business," says Peter A. Darbee, Chairman of the Board, Chief Executive Officer and President of PG&E Corporation.

2010

Clean-Fuel Vehicle Fleet: PG&E is a pioneer in developing a clean-fueled fleet of utility cars and trucks, recognized as the leading utility fleet in 2010 by Automotive Fleet magazine. Our current total clean fleet of 1,252 vehicles is deployed across our service area in northern and central California and includes natural gas vehicles, all-electric cars and trucks, hybrids and bio-diesel cars and trucks.

Smarter Energy Grid: PG&E's SmartMeter™ program is a step on the path to a smarter energy future, helping customers understand and manage their energy use to save money and resources. SmartMeter™ devices will be an integral part of tomorrow's Smart Grid throughout our service area.


The Amalgamation of Our
Gas Company Business

  • Over the years, many predessessor gas companies have been consolidated to form Pacific Gas and Electric Company.
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