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Twentieth-Century Business Archives

Arkansas Power & Light Co. - Lehman Brothers Collection

Arkansas Power & Light Co.

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Arkansas Power & Light was incorporated in Arkansas in October 1926. The company was created through the combination of several companies controlled by Electric Power and Light Corporation, a large company that owned utility businesses nationwide. The company was formed through the merger of Arkansas Central Power Co., Arkansas Light & Power, Pine Bluff Company, East Arkansas Power & Light, and several other smaller properties. The company expanded in 1929 by acquiring assets from Southern Edison, North Arkansas Power, and all of the assets of Arkansas Public Service Co.

By 1929 Arkansas Power was supplying power and light service to 197 communities throughout Arkansas, including Little Rock. It earned $3.7 million in 1929, compared to $2.6 million in 1926. During this period, the company more than tripled the number of power transmission lines owned, from 1,138 miles in 1926 to 3,799 miles in 1929.

In 1935, before rural cooperative or government-sponsored agencies such as the Tennessee Valley Authority began to operate in the state, the company originated a design that made use of one insulated wire and one grounded neutral, which furnished the foundation on which the company's rural electric program was built. This design greatly lowered the cost of construction of rural lines.

During the 1940s the company grew rapidly. In 1943 it had 8,400 miles of power lines in service that by 1949 grew to 13,600.

Electric Power & Light was reorganized in May 1949. Under the reorganization plan, a new holding company called Middle South Utilities was created into which the holdings of four utility subsidiaries of Electric Power & Light were transferred: Arkansas Power & Light, Louisiana Power & Light, Mississippi Power & Light, and New Orleans Public Service.

In 1950 Arkansas Power sold all of its gas utility assets to Midsouth Gas Company. In 1953 earnings for Arkansas Power rose 23% over the previous year, from $6.15 million to $7.58 million. The company also spent a record $41.8 million on construction, which included two new generating units.

By 1959 Arkansas Power was supplying electricity to sixty-one of the seventy-five counties in Arkansas. It embarked on the most costly construction program in the history of the company in 1964, which included $19.5 million for transmission facilities, $14.1 million for distribution facilities, $3.8 million for new offices, service centers, and transportation equipment, for a total of $39.7 million.

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