Citizens Energy Group, formerly known as Citizens Gas & Coke Utility, was preceded by Consumers Gas Trust Company, the first gas trust in Indianapolis. Consumers Gas Trust was established in October 1887 as a public trust under a plan created by John B. Conner and Alfred F. Potts. The new company took advantage of Indiana’s gas boom and began supplying gas to residents in 1888 with its 14 gas wells. By the end of the 1890s, it had 34 miles of gas lines and was continuously drilling new wells.

The Citizens Gas and Coke Utility structure, April 1946.
© Digital Image 2016 Indiana Historical Society. All Rights Reserved.

Despite measures taken to discourage the wasteful use of gas by the early 1900s, Indiana’s supply of natural gas had quickly become depleted. This along with concerns over how the company was using its funds led to the end of the Consumers Gas Trust Company.

The trust was revived on May 23, 1906, as the Citizens Gas Company and officially took over Consumers Gas Trust by 1907. In 1908, the company purchased 22 acres of land and began construction of a new water-gas plant at 2950 Prospect St., which would also produce by-products like coke, tar, and ammonia.

Citizens Gas and Coke workers during a national coal strike,1946.
© Digital Image 2016 Indiana Historical Society. All Rights Reserved.

The company had several years of growth and was eager to continue this trend. On October 1, 1913, it merged with competitor Indianapolis Gas Company, acquiring 25 miles of gas line and the Langsdale plant. In 1918, Citizens Gas Company made a move to offset its own limitations in coal supply by purchasing the West Virginia-based Milburn Coal Company from whom it had been purchasing coal for years.

In 1929, the city’s Board of Works gave notice of its intentions to take up ownership of Citizens Gas Company under the terms of the 1905 contract, although the transfer did not occur until 1935. After the change in ownership, it received a new name, Citizens Gas & Coke Utility. By the end of 1938, the company had increased its gas lines to a total of 53 miles. This type of growth continued through the 1940s.

By the 1950s, the demand for natural gas was increasing. Citizens Gas & Coke Utility, however, only supplied manufactured gas. To meet this demand, the utility contracted with Panhandle Eastern Pipe Line of Texas on September 28, 1950, to supply 10 million cubic feet of natural gas daily. The utility made some other additions throughout the 1950s. New administrative offices were acquired in 1956 on the 2000 block of North Meridian Street. Pipelines were extended to an increasing number of outer communities such as Cumberland. Three new buildings were constructed at the Langsdale site in 1957.

In 1961, Citizens Gas & Coke Utility finished building a gas storage field in Greene County. Multiple regulating stations and mainline extensions to service this field were completed by 1967. While planning for a liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility in Greene County (which was in operation by December 1972), the utility struck oil and soon had 40 wells producing oil.

Construction began in 1978 on the K-79 project which would triple the utility’s production of coke and increase revenue from by-products. Between the increase in coke production and an increase in environmental protection, the utility built a wastewater pretreatment plant in 1980 to rid water of undesirable waste products before being discharged to the sewers.

By the 1990s, the utility could boost more than 230,000 customers and assets of over $450 million. Those numbers continued to grow with the acquisition of the Perry K steam plant from Indianapolis Power And Light Company in 2000 and the Westfield Gas system in 2005.

Citizens made the decision in 2007 to close down the Prospect plant due to competition, declining revenue, and rising environmental costs. As a result of this closure and strategic shifts within the company, the utility changed its name to Citizens Energy Group in 2008. Part of this shift in strategy involved expanding its utility services. In 2011, it acquired Indianapolis’ water and wastewater utilities. Three years later, it did the same with Westfield’s water and wastewater system. Citizens Energy Group has about 400,000 customers across central Indiana.

After a decade of being closed, Citizens sold the Prospect plant site to the city of Indianapolis in 2017 for a new Indianapolis-Marion County Criminal Justice Campus, which was completed in 2021. 

Revised March 2021
 

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