Company History

Company History


Although we've grown tremendously in more than 125 years of industrialization and progress, we never forget how we started: one customer at a time. Below is an overview of our history, from the chartering of Manufacturers Natural Gas Company to the latest at Columbia Gas of Maryland.

1885 – Manufacturers Natural Gas Company, later to become Manufacturers Light & Heat Company, is chartered.

1902 – Manufacturers Light & Heat Company, dating from 1899, has 40,474 customers.

1903 – Merger of seven companies expands resources and operation of Manufacturers Light & Heat; company has 48,634 customers at year's end.

1903-06 – Homes of many Manufacturers customers are piped for gas lighting.

1910 – Manufacturers has 77,000 residential customers – additional residential service includes cooking, water heating and space heating.

1914 – Company offers to sell Reliable gas ranges to customers in Ohio Valley.

1915 – Thirteen affiliated companies which had previously operated separately are merged into Manufacturers Light & Heat. Operations are centered in the highly industrialized area in and around Pittsburgh, the northern panhandle of West Virginia and eastern Ohio around Steubenville and East Liverpool. Natural gas is a popular fuel with the steel, pottery and porcelain plants in this area.

1917 – World War I gives added impetus to the use of gas as a fuel in the steel furnaces of Pittsburgh.

1924 – Ownership of stock of Manufacturers Light & Heat Company is acquired by a newly formed corporation, Ohio Fuel Corporation, headed by George W. Crawford.

1926 – Holdings of Ohio Fuel Corporation and Columbia Gas & Electric Company are consolidated to form Columbia Gas & Electric Corporation, which later (1948) becomes The Columbia Gas System, Inc.

1927 – Columbia Gas & Electric sets up five operating groups, one of which is the Pittsburgh group. Its principal company is Manufacturers Light & Heat Company, which produces and distributes gas in Maryland, Ohio and West Virginia. Major cities served are Pittsburgh, New Castle, Wheeling, Steubenville and East Liverpool. George W. Ratclifie, formerly an elected assistant treasurer of the Columbia Gas & Electric Corporation, is president.

1930 – Manufacturers continues to expand and now is composed of some 25 companies.

1937 – First oversupply of summer gas is piped into underground storage at Cross Creek in Washington County, Pa. to be held in reserve for cold-weather delivery.

1940-45 – Wartime restriction on home building and new appliances brings a virtual end to requests for gas service.

1944 – Manufacturers Light & Heat following its third major merger, this time with Manufacturers Gas Company, Maryland Fuel Supply Company and Greensboro Gas Company, begins direct service to Warren, Pa. and other towns in the area.

1945 – War's end touches off an unprecedented demand for gas service, especially gas heating.

1946 – Manufacturers begin to meet the needs of its growing markets with gas from the Southwest delivered through the two long-distance pipelines – the "Big Inch" and "Little Inch"– built by the government during the war to move oil from Texas to the East Coast.

1947-54 – Supply problems force Manufacturers to impose space-heating restrictions.

1948 – Manufacturers acquired assets of Gettysburg Gas Corporation, founded in 1928.

1951 – Discovery of large volumes of gas in north central Maryland opens another immediate and long-range source of gas supply.

1951 – Manufacturers purchases Maryland and West Virginia properties of The Natural Gas Company of West Virginia.

1952 – Manufacturers discontinues appliance sales to public, launches expanded program of dealer promotion.

1953 – First odorization of gas with mercaptan for safety purposes.

1954 – Manufacturers introduces Budget Payment Plan as a convenient way for gas heating customers to ease payment of winter bills.

1954 – Gulf Interstate (now Columbia Gulf) makes its first delivery of Southwest gas to Manufacturers Light & Heat via United Fuel pipelines.

1954 – Record $30,939,000 invested in new and enlarged pipelines, storage capacity, compressors and other delivery facilities, bringing improvement expenditures since 1945 to a total of $153,730,000.

1955 – Program to realign Columbia Gas corporate structure begins, resulting in Eastern Ohio properties of Manufacturers Light & Heat being transferred to The Ohio Fuel Gas Company.

1955 – Manufacturers reaches an all-time record 901-million cubic feet of gas delivered in a 24-hour period.

1955 – Manufacturers serves 460,000 retail customers, 264,000 of whom are residential heating customers.

1957 – Gas deliveries reach one billion cubic feet in a 24-hour period, as well as averaging one billion cubic feet every day for the five-day period January 14-18.

1966 – Columbia Gas of Maryland acquires the properties of Central Maryland Gas Company, serving State College and portions of Centre County.

1969 – Artificially low gas prices force drillers to curtail production, leading to an energy crisis.

1969 – York County Gas Company, chartered in 1849, is acquired by Columbia and becomes a part of the Pittsburgh group.

1971 – The Distribution Company's new computer-based Customer Information System (CIS) is installed in Mt. Lebanon office.

1971 – Transmission and production functions of Manufacturers Light & Heat are transferred to Columbia Gas Transmission Corporation in Charleston, W.V. Manufacturers Light & Heat name becomes history.

1972 – Country-wide gas supply problems necessitate a complete "freeze" on taking on any new Maryland customers or new load of any kind.

1973 – Further corporate restructuring places all distribution operations under a single management, headquartered in Columbus, Ohio. Pittsburgh group headquarters, operational since 1927, closes.

1973 – Maryland's three districts, headquartered in Pittsburgh, Uniontown and York, serve 302,355 residential customers, 28,138 commercial and 378 industrial.

1977 – A Charleroi, Pa. serviceman, honored for life-saving use of approved resuscitation methods, is the first Columbia winner of the National Safety Council's President's Medal.

1978 – The nation's Natural Gas Policy Act stimulates renewed natural gas exploration and drilling.

1979 – Company's supply of natural gas improves to the point where the Public Utility Commission grants its request to take on new residential, commercial and industrial customers.

1982 – First company sign to conform to Columbia System's new graphics style is hung at Hanover, Pa. service center.

1983 – Customers are asked to contribute to company-supported fuel funds to help low-income customers pay their winter heating bills.

1985 – Pricing is deregulated on natural gas drilled since 1977.

1986 – The Company's first customer relations program is introduced to offer personalized assistance to customers with payment problems and special needs.

1987 – Customer accounts are converted from CIS to new, improved DIS (Distributive Information System) new, easier-to-read and understand customer bill is introduced.

1988 – Company introduces WarmChoice program to weatherize the homes of low-income customers and help them better manage their energy use.

1988 – Offices throughout the Pittsburgh area are equipped with telecommunications devices for the deaf (TDD) to respond to inquiries from hearing-impaired customers.

1988 – The gas-fueled light in the Eternal Light Peace Memorial at Gettysburg, extinguished in 1973 during the natural gas moratorium, was relit and the memorial rededicated during the 125th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, July 3, 1988.

1988 – Public Utility Commission rates the Company's Customer service the best of any utility in the state and the best ever in the 10 years it has conducted its annual performance review.

1988 – New East Coast wholesale customers connected; Lynchberg Gas joins System.

1989 – Columbia Energy Services Corporation (CES) is begun as part of another Columbia Gas subsidiary.

1990 – The Company's logo changes from "three stars" to "energy flame."

1991 – Columbia Gas and its wholly owned subsidiary, Columbia Transmission, file for protection under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code.

1992 – Developed the Customer Assistance Program to assist low-income customers who are chronically payment-troubled.

1993 – Columbia Energy Services becomes a "stand-alone entity" and serves as the Company's non-regulated energy-marketing subsidiary of Columbia Gas System.

1993 – Columbia Gas Transmission files its plan of reorganization with the Bankruptcy Court, a significant step forward in the Company's Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings.

1994-1996 – Columbia Gas implements the Phoenix Project, which redesigns and reorganizes the company's existing organizational structures.

1995 – Oliver G. Richard III becomes Chairman, president and CEO of Columbia Energy Group.

1995 – Columbia Gas and its wholly owned subsidiary, Columbia Transmission emerges from Chapter 11 protection of the United States Bankruptcy Code under the jurisdiction of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware.

1996 – Columbia Gas moves its corporate headquarters from Wilmington, Delaware to Reston, Virginia.

1996 – The sale of Columbia Gas Development is completed, allowing Columbia Gas to focus on exploration and production opportunities.

1996 – Columbia Network Services Corporation is formed.

1997 – Columbia Gas buys Alamco and PennUnion.

1998 – Columbia Gas System becomes Columbia Energy Group, and the Company's logo changes from "energy flame" to "energy burst."

2000 – NiSource and Columbia Energy Group complete $6 billion merger.

2001 – NiSource completes sale of Columbia Propane.

2003 – NiSource completes sale of Columbia Natural Resources.

2004 – Columbia Gas of Maryland relocates its corporate headquarters from Pittsburgh to Canonsburg, Pa. Robert C. Skaggs named President of NiSource.

2005 – Robert C. Skaggs named Chief Executive Officer of NiSource.

2006 – Columbia Gas of Maryland and Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania unveil a new bill format that is easier for customers to read and includes useful, value-added information.

2007 – Columbia Gas of Maryland announces that the company will invest in replacing its aging natural gas infrastructure. The replacement program brings jobs, economic development and revitalization to communities across the state.

2008 – Jimmy Staton named Executive Vice President and Group CEO of NiSource Gas Distribution companies, including Columbia Gas of Maryland and Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania.

2009 – M. Carol Fox appointed President of Columbia Gas of Maryland and Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania.

2012 – Joe Hamrock named Executive Vice President and Group CEO of NiSource Gas Distribution companies, including Columbia Gas of Maryland and Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania. Mark R. Kempic appointed President of Columbia Gas of Maryland and Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania.

2017 – Mike Huwar appointed President of Columbia Gas of Maryland and Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania.