In 1866, Houston Gas Light Company was organized to supply gas (made from oyster shells and coal) for the street lights in a fledgling coastal village in southeast Texas that had sprung from the banks of a winding bayou. Four years later, the city of Minneapolis granted the newly formed Minneapolis Gas Light Co. a franchise to provide gas service with gas manufactured from coal or oil at a plant along the Mississippi River. After another quarter century, in 1905, an organization of businessmen was granted the first franchise for distribution of natural gas in Shreveport, La. Decades later, from 1988 to 1990, these three businesses merged to form a company that became NorAm Energy Corp.
Meanwhile, back in 1882, Houston Electric Light & Power filed a charter and was granted a franchise by the Houston City Council. Over the next century, HL&P generated electricity from steam, natural gas, coal or lignite and finally nuclear fission for sale and delivery to retail customers in the rapidly growing greater Houston area.
In 1995, NorAm Energy Services began marketing wholesale electric power nationwide. NorAm Energy Management was established for retail energy marketing and NorAm's gas gathering assets were unbundled and transferred to NorAm Field Services.
Two years later, NorAm merged with Houston Industries, Inc., the parent company of HL&P, to become one of the United States' largest integrated energy companies, which in 1999 was named Reliant Energy, Inc. With the restructuring of the electric market in Texas in 2002, the company spun off its retail electric sales (and some other unregulated energy services) as Reliant Resources. Within two years, the company would also sell its electric generation assets.
In October 2002, the remaining mostly regulated energy delivery company adopted the name CenterPoint Energy to reflect our role in the center of the energy value chain and the center of our customers' lives.
Today, CenterPoint Energy, Inc., headquartered in Houston, Texas, is a domestic energy delivery company that includes electric transmission & distribution, natural gas distribution, competitive natural gas sales and services, interstate pipeline and field services operations. The company serves more than five million metered customers primarily in Arkansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas. Assets total nearly $19 billion. With about 8,700 employees, CenterPoint Energy and its predecessor companies have been in business for more than 130 years.