Consolidated Edison

Thomas Edison established the Edison Electric Light Company with the financial help of J.P. Morgan and the affluent Vanderbilt family. The company gave Edison a chance to own and license his electrical patents. Edison experimented with his assistant, Francis Upton, and they invented a carbon filament that burned inside a glass bulb for forty hours. They showed the new development to their financial backers in December 1879, and at the end of the month they were showing the light bulb to the public.

Once the light bulb was introduced, Edison began to develop an electric generation system that could distribute the light bulb and create an efficient business. He incorporated the Edison Electric Illuminating Company in 1880 in New York. He worked to solve and master issues with generation, distribution and the metering of electric currents. Edison received over two hundred patents in the years between 1879 and 1882. Edison had another big breakthrough on September 4, 1882. On this day, his electric illuminating system began to operate, and it paved the way for businesses and homes to buy electric light at a price competitive with gas.

Besides Edison, many other businessmen realized the practicality of electricity. Edison’s company received some of its biggest competition from the Brush Electric Light Company and the Safety Electric Light and Power Company. Edison incorporated the Edison Electric Illuminating Company of Brooklyn in 1887, which competed with Kings County Electric. Soon, there were more than thirty different companies that generated and distributed power throughout New York City and Westchester County.

In 1901, Consolidated Gas Company consolidated their acquired businesses into one, which was called The New Edison Company. In that same year, the new subsidiary opened Brooklyn Edison Waterside, which was the largest generating plant in the world. By the year 1932, Consolidated Gas, which was New York Edison’s parent company, was the biggest electrical service company in the world.

In the latter part of the 1970s, the National Energy Act began an attempt to restructure the electric industry. The Public Service Commission in New York initiated an open energy market for New York, which eventually led to an agreement with Con Edison to sell many of its generating plants. Today, Con Edison still operates one of the biggest electric systems in the world.

Though Con Edison has consistently provided electricity to many homes and residences, it may have put its workers at risk through the use of asbestos.  This toxic mineral was once prized for its strength and heat resistance, making it a common additive to insulation and construction materials.  Unfortunately, exposure to asbestos even in small amounts has been shown to cause serious respiratory problems including pleural plaques, asbestosis, and mesothelioma.