The CLEVELAND ELECTRIC ILLUMINATING CO. (a Centerior Energy Co.) was organized on 29 Sept. 1892 as the Cleveland General Electric Co. as a result of the merger of the Brush Electric Light & Power Co. and the Cleveland Electric Light Co. The former, founded by inventor and electric light pioneer CHAS. F. BRUSH and others on 16 Mar. 1881, used Brush arc lamps to light PUBLIC SQUARE and several streets and stores. The Cleveland Electric Light Co., established on 21 June 1884, bought a power-generating station on Johnson St. between Bank (W. 6th) and Water (W. 9th) streets and used the power to supply its Edison incandescent lights in several downtown stores. The new Cleveland General Electric Co. adopted the name of Cleveland Electric Illuminating Co. (CEI) on 21 July 1894. In 1895 the company built a generating plant on Canal Rd., considered "the most modern in the world." With offices in the CUYAHOGA BLDG., by 1910 it had 31,000 customers in a service area that included E. CLEVELAND, EUCLID, CLEVELAND HTS., LAKEWOOD, and almost all of Cleveland. In 1911 it opened its Lake Shore steam generating plant at E. 70th St., and in Mar. 1913 the company moved into the new 15-story Illuminating Bldg. at 75 Public Square, which served as its headquarters until the move into another new Illuminating Bldg. at 55 Public Square in Feb. 1958. In the early 1940s, CEI began promoting Cleveland as "the best location in the nation" in hopes of attracting new industries to the area. In 1946 it purchased the Cleveland Light & Power Co., organized in 1893. CEI customers numbered 370,000 in 1946.
In Sept. 1967 CEI became a charter member of the Central Area Power Coordination Group (CAPCO), which included Toledo Edison, Ohio Edison, the Duquesne Light Co., and the Pennsylvania Power Co. CAPCO members pooled financial resources to build generating facilities. In 1974 CEI began construction of the Perry Nuclear Power Plant near North Perry, and in 1977 service began from the Davis Besse Nuclear Power Station, 10 Center Rd. in Perry, of which CEI owns 51%. CEI became affiliated with Toledo Edison in April 1986 with the formation of Centerior Energy Corp., a holding company which holds all common stock of both companies. The 1970s ushered in a difficult period for the company, marked by disputes with consumer groups over rate increases and with environmental groups over the dangers of pollution and nuclear power. A long dispute with the City of Cleveland over relations with the city's municipal light plant culminated in an antitrust suit against CEI filed by the city in 1975, a suit which was eventually lost by the city. CEI's parent Centerior Energy Corp. had revenues of $2.4 billion and a net income of $537 million in 1992; it employed 6,500 in 1993.