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Washington, D.C., was decades slower than some other eastern U.S. cities to move from candles or oil to gas for lighting. Baltimore was first, in 1816; New York City was partially lighted with gas in 1825. [ citation needed] In 1840, when a gas company for Washington remained only a proposal, a U.S. Senate document argued for gas’ salutary effect on the local economy: "fancy and other stores would introduce this light, and thus add to the cheerfulness of the public ways." [ citation needed]

Among the early proponents of gas was James Crutchett, who bought a house north of the Capitol grounds and lit it with gas. This drew the attention of Congress, which voted him $17,500 to light up the Capitol and helped encourage public support for wider use of gas.

A supporter of Crutchett’s ideas was Benjamin B. French, Chief Clerk of the House of Representatives, who helped attract other important supporters, including William A. Bradley, the city’s postmaster and mayor; John F. Callan, a druggist; his brother Michael P. Callan, a Post Office clerk; hardware merchant William H. Harrover; William H. English, a Treasury clerk who became a Congressman from Indiana and later a Vice-Presidential candidate; and Jacob Bigelow, an attorney and abolitionist who later helped escaped slave Ann Maria Weems. [2]

Two petitions were sent to Congress in April 1848, and on July 8 of that year, lawmakers issued the first Congressional charter for a company that would extract gas from coal. [ citation needed] At last, the nation’s capital had its first gas company, the Washington Gas Light Company. [3] The company was established on the tenth street of the Foggy Bottom neighborhood, and eventually led to the area’s urbanization. [ citation needed] 1850-1900 [ edit ]

Meanwhile, a new plant was constructed in Foggy Bottom in 1858 at the intersection of New Hampshire and Virginia avenues NW. This location, at the head of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, gave it access to barges carrying coal from West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

During the American Civil War, coal and transportation grew scarce. “The cost of making gas increased one hundred and twenty-five percent, and another problem appeared when Congress reduced the gas rate seventeen percent.” [5] The company sought help from the Secretary of War and from President Abraham Lincoln, who he wrote to John W. Garrett, president of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, asking him to “bring coal to the city and afford the continuation of the necessary gas lighting.” [6] Production levels for gas went down during the Civil War, they soon returned to normal.

The Foggy Bottom plant operated until the 1950s. In 1964, the Washington Gas Light Company sold development rights for the location in a deal that stipulated that the new structure would be supplied exclusively by the company. [11] The last building of the Watergate was completed in 1971.

In 1997, in response to newly deregulated gas and energy markets, Washington Gas formed Washington Gas Resources Corp to serve as a holding company for non-utility subsidiaries. Also in 1997, the company created an unregulated energy company, Washington Gas Energy Services, as a subsidiary of that holding company. [12] Washington Gas Energy Services started with just a handful of customers and as of 2014 had grown into an $8.0 million company. [13] Present day [ edit ]

In 2013, the company rebranded itself as WGL with the goal of "being a new kind of energy company: answer-oriented, technology and data driven, responsive and built for the complex energy markets of today and tomorrow". [13] This rebrand included the renaming of Washington Gas Energy Services to WGL Energy and the inclusion of the term "a WGL Company" under the traditional Washington Gas logo. [ citation needed] WGL’s stock rose 26% over 2016. [14] On January 25, 2017, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Canadian natural gas company AltaGas had agreed to acquire WGL Holdings Inc. for $6.4 billion. The deal, subject to various approvals, is expected to close by the end of the second quarter of 2018. [14] References [ edit ]