In 1938, Gastonia was a small North Carolina town where textile mills not only dominated the landscape but defined the community. It was in this setting that a utility executive originally from Ohio began securing a foothold in the manufactured gas business.
Charles B. Zeigler (pictured), who quit school at age 14, had worked his way up to leadership positions with Dayton Power & Light Company and the National Electric Power Company of New York before relocating to the Tar Heel state in the 1930s.
Having acquired the Gastonia Suburban Gas Company in 1936, Zeigler added the Concord and Kannapolis Gas Company to his portfolio in 1938, then immediately merged the two firms. That merger resulted in the formation of Public Service Company of North Carolina and set the foundation for a statewide natural gas distribution company known today as PSNC Energy.
This past September, PSNC Energy celebrated its 75th year of operations. As company founder and president, Zeigler spent much of the 1940s growing PSNC Energy’s predecessor, Public Service Company, as a manufactured gas utility. By the end of World War II, its footprint included the Raleigh and Durham areas, as well as the Asheville area, putting the company in a strategic position for the anticipated delivery of natural gas.
When natural gas arrived via the Williams Transcontinental Gas Pipeline in 1951, PSNC Energy was the first distribution company in the state to tie into the new interstate pipeline as it crossed Gaston County. Thanks to Zeigler’s leadership and careful planning, PSNC Energy’s transition from a manufactured gas company to a natural gas distribution company was completed by the late 1950s. Gaston County resident, Eveline Ervin, who’s been a PSNC Energy customer since 1957, has been enjoying natural gas service for almost as long as it’s been available.
A winter storm 10 years ago brought Ervin’s neighbors to her home because she still had heat from logs, and could cook and take a hot shower.
“I wouldn’t trade it,” added Ervin. “I just like the way gas heat feels.”
Over the years, PSNC Energy has experienced tremendous growth as more and more homeowners such as Ervin, as well as business owners and manufacturers, have chosen to use natural gas. This past spring, the company achieved another milestone by adding its 500,000th customer.
“We have a fuel that burns cleanly and extremely efficiently, and is readily available at a competitive price,” said Rusty Harris, PSNC Energy president and COO. “But even with a great product to sell, our focus remains on providing excellent customer service.”
Harris points out that PSNC Energy’s high standard of service was set in motion 75 years ago.
“Our employees embody that commitment every day, and that dedication will make all the difference in PSNC Energy’s continued success in the years ahead.”