This industry classification consists of companies primarily providing electricity, but also furnishing other utility services. Companies in which the electricity sales account for 95 percent or more of the revenues are listed in SIC 4911: Electric Services.
Hydroelectric Power Generation
Fossil Fuel Electric Power Generation
Nuclear Electric Power Generation
Other Electric Power Generation
Electric Bulk Power Transmission and Control
Electric Power Distribution
Natural Gas Distribution
The roots of the U.S. electric utility industry can be traced back to 1878, when the first private electric company, Edison Electric, began operating in New York City. The first city-owned electric system began operating in Butler, Missouri, in 1881. By 1900, utilities of both types had proliferated; there were more than 800 publicly owned systems and about 2,000 private power companies. Most electric utilities were vertically integrated, controlling generation plants as well as the transmission and distribution lines to customers in multiple states.
Modern state utility regulation was born in Wisconsin in 1907. The Wisconsin Public Utilities Commission charter served as a model for other state efforts. It was the first to require operating permits for all utilities to initiate service, and it was the first to regulate rates of service and to control the issuance of securities by regulated public utilities.
From 1910 through the 1920s, the number of electric utilities declined. Many were controlled by a small number of holding companies, which were, in turn, owned by other holding companies. By 1932, three holding companies controlled 45 percent of all U.S. electricity generation. They charged excessive rates, had high debt-to-equity ratios, engaged in self-dealing, and provided unreliable service. Most highly leveraged holding companies that stayed solvent in the 1920s collapsed after the stock market crash, unable to service their debt.
The 1930s saw federal government involvement in power production in rural areas through the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Rural Electrification Administration, and five federal Power Marketing Administrations formed to sell cheap power to municipal and cooperative systems.
In 1935, Congress passed the...