Long Island Lighting Company

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Long Island Lighting Company
IndustryElectric utility
FoundedLong Island, New York (1911) by Ellis Laurimore Phillips & George W. Olmsted
FateElectrical transmission network acquired by LIPA, electrical distribution system and natural gas operations merged with Brooklyn Union Gas to form KeySpan
SuccessorLong Island Power Authority, KeySpan
HeadquartersHicksville, New York, United States[1]
Key people
W. J. Catacosinos, Chairman & CEO,
J. T. Flynn, President & COO,
A. Nozzolillo Sr. VP-Finance & CFO,
T. A. Babcock, Treasurer,
K. A. Marion, Corporate Secretary
ProductsElectrical & natural gas utility[1] in Nassau, Suffolk and Queens Counties, on Long Island, New York[1]

The Long Island Lighting Company, or LILCO [ "lil-co" ], was an electrical power company and natural gas utility for Long Island, New York, serving 2.7 million people in Nassau, Suffolk and Queens counties,[1] from 1911 until 1998.



Glenwood Generating Station in 1936

It was founded by Ellis Laurimore Phillips, an engineer, and a group of New York City investors, including George W. Olmsted.[2] At the time, Long Island had multiple small power utilities that served individual villages; their business plan was to acquire these an interconnect them into an island-wide grid. In 1911, their first purchases were four small electric companies in Amityville, Islip, Northport and Sayville.[3]

The Glenwood Generating Station was constructed from 1928 to 1931.[4][5] The extra generating capacity was needed due to a sixfold increase in Long Island's electricity demand from 1910 to 1925. The expansion also reflected LILCO's then-novel philosophy of using few centralized power plants interconnected by transmission lines, rather than many small plants distributed through the region.[6] In 1936 it was described as "the key electric generating plant of the Long Island system,"[7] and its control room managed LILCO's entire system.[6]

Mid-century expansion[edit]

Northport Power Station in 2007

LILCO greatly increased its generating facilities to meet increasing power demands created by Long Island's postwar population growth. In the 1950s, two new units were constructed at the Glenwood Generating Station, and two at the new E. F. Barrett Power Station, and one at the new Far Rockaway Power Station. At the time The New York Times called the Glenwood Generating Station "one of the most modern power plants in the country," with both mechanical and electrostatic precipitators for dust and ash collection, as well as valve silencers and noise barriers. It was the first turbine generator mounted on an open deck in the Northeastern United States.[8] Four units were also constructed at the Port Jefferson Power Station between 1948 and 1960.[9][10][11][12]

The four units of the Northport Power Station, constructed between 1967 and 1977, became Long Islands largest power plant.[9][11][13] In addition to the large steam turbine plants, LILCO built a large number of smaller gas turbine generators in the early 1970s, most of them at the E. F. Barrett Power Station and at a new facility in Holtsville.[11]


LILCO was long notorious for its high rates. Indeed, according to a 1999 article in The New York Times, LILCO's rates were considered part of an "unholy trinity of life on Long Island", along with the Long Island Rail Road's service woes and traffic snarls on the Long Island Expressway.[14]

In 1983, the Suffolk County legislature resolved that the county could not be safely evacuated in the event of an emergency at the LILCO built Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant.[15][16] In an effort to show they were prepared for the event of a nuclear mishap at Shoreham, LILCO created a volunteer organization, staffed by Shoreham engineers and various staff from LILCO itself, named LERO (Local Emergency Response Organization) to provide assistance to the public.[17]

Hurricane Gloria hit Long Island on September 27, 1985, but power was not fully restored until October 8. The utility's poor response to the storm further eroded public confidence in LILCO's ability to handle an emergency and placed increased pressure to shutter the Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant.[15][16]

In the end, in a political decision born from LILCO's inability to present a viable evacuation plan for Suffolk County, Shoreham was closed down in 1992 after never having operated at more than minimum power for testing purposes.[3]

Demise and aftermath[edit]

On March 5, 1998, final Federal approval was received for LIPA to take over LILCO's electrical transmission network. The deal was completed later that year. LILCO's power distribution assets were bought by the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), a public authority.[3] The rest of LILCO, including its electrical generation and natural gas businesses, merged with Brooklyn Union Gas to form KeySpan, which continued to run LILCO's old transmission network under contract with LIPA.

KeySpan was taken over by National Grid USA in 2007. National Grid handed control of Long Island's electrical transmission system to New Jersey utility Public Service Enterprise Group in 2014.

Major power plants[edit]

All locations are in New York.

Name Location Units completed[9][18] Nominal capacity[18] Current status
Glenwood Generating Station Glenwood Landing 1930–1954 Decommissioned in 2012 and demolished
Far Rockaway Power Station Far Rockaway, Queens 1953 Decommissioned in 2012 and demolished[19]
E. F. Barrett Power Station Barnum Island 1956–1963 385 MW In use
Port Jefferson Power Station Port Jefferson 1948–1960 383 MW In use; Units 1 and 2 decommissioned in 1994[20]
Northport Power Station Fort Salonga 1967–1977 1,522 MW In use
Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant East Shoreham 1984 820 MW[21] Never operated

In addition to the major plants, LILCO constructed smaller gas turbine plants at the above facilities and in East Hampton North, Holtsville, Southampton, Southold, and West Babylon.[18]


  1. ^ a b c d Company profile at Business.com
  2. ^ "Long Island Lighting Co. Mortgage]". New York Times. 4 June 1911. p. XX7. ProQuest 97145055.
  3. ^ a b c Long Island Our Story, New York Newsday
  4. ^ "Glenwood Overhead 69 KV Transmission Line Relocation and Glenwood Power Station Decommissioning and Demolition Project: Environmental Impact Assessment" (PDF). Long Island Power Authority. June 2012. pp. 1–9, 6–1, 6–2, 9–1, 9–2. Retrieved 4 December 2014.
  5. ^ "Alternative Use Analysis: Glenwood Power Station No. 2". Louis Berger Group, Inc. 25 June 2012. pp. i, 9–30. Retrieved 4 December 2014. (Document starts on page 27 of file.)
  6. ^ a b "Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record Level 1 Report". April 2013. pp. 7–14. Retrieved 4 December 2014. (Document starts on page 153 of file.)
  7. ^ Rumsey, Spencer (3 March 2014). "Power Plant Closures Generate Taxing Troubles". Long Island Press. Retrieved 4 December 2014.
  8. ^ "Long Island Lighting Opens Big Power Unit As First Step in 50 Million Expansion Plan". The New York Times. 28 November 1952. p. 35. Retrieved 4 December 2014.
  9. ^ a b c "Long Island's big six powerhouses". Newsday. 2010-06-04. Retrieved 2021-05-21.
  10. ^ Gardner, Sarah (1951-01-27). "Much to be done in coming year". Newsday. p. 61. Retrieved 2022-04-15.
  11. ^ a b c "Gold Book: 2021 Load & Capacity Data". New York Independent System Operator. 2021-04-01. pp. 77–99. Retrieved 2022-03-22.
  12. ^ "Repowering Feasibility Study: Port Jefferson Power Station" (PDF). Long Island Power Authority. 2017-04-19. pp. ES-4–ES-5, 4-1. Retrieved 2022-04-13.
  13. ^ "Gas- and Oil-Fired Plants in New York". Power Plants Around The World. May 24, 2006. Archived from the original on July 18, 2009. Retrieved 2007-12-04.
  14. ^ Halbfinger, David M. (July 30, 1999). "The Long Island Rail Road: Busiest, but Far From Best". The New York Times. Retrieved January 17, 2019.
  15. ^ a b Fagin, Dan (2007-05-29). "Lights Out at Shoreham". Newsday. Archived from the original on 2007-12-01. Retrieved 2007-08-30.
  16. ^ a b Hevesi, Dennis (August 22, 2011). "Nora Bredes, Who Fought Long Island Nuclear Plant, Dies at 60". The New York Times.
  17. ^ Wald, Matthew L. (18 December 1983). "How Lilco and Suffolk View Plans for Evacuation". The New York Times.
  18. ^ a b c Rodriguez, Raul R. (2015-06-26). "Survey of National Grid Generation Formerly Owned By LILCO" (PDF). U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. pp. 10, 13–14. Retrieved 2021-05-21.
  19. ^ "National Grid Far Rockaway Power Plant Demolition". North American Dismantling Corp. Retrieved 2021-05-22.
  20. ^ Solnik, Claude (2014-04-01). "LIPA eyes tearing down, rebuilding oldest power plants". Long Island Business News. Retrieved 2022-03-25.
  21. ^ Fagin, Dan (2007-05-29). "Lights Out at Shoreham". Newsday. Archived from the original on 2007-12-01. Retrieved 2007-08-30.

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