The Crawfordsville Electric Light & Power Company has a long and colorful history. The enterprise was officially formed as a publicly owned entity in 1890. Actually, the City of Crawfordsville was a pioneer in its desire to have a municipal light plant. History indicates that the justification for the city wanting to control its own destiny was due to its ongoing battles with privately owned firms that supplied the city with gas, electric lighting as well as water. Needless to say, the move by the city was a controversial political issue..
Some citizens and elected officials questioned the citys decision to own and operate such a facility. During this turbulent time, many other Indiana cities pushed for legislation allowing them to own and operate municipal electrical plants. Although many political obstacles and legal battles that took place with the private companies had to be overcome prior to the operation of the citys first plant, the first Crawfordsville plant was christened on September 9, 1891. Originally, the plant was built with a sole purpose of providing a cost saving lighting source for the City of Crawfordsville. Immediately after the completion of the system, business and citizens of the community expressed a desire to have the citys plant provide lighting to them as well.
Later that year, an Indiana Supreme Court ruling overturned the previous decision by the Circuit Court that prohibited cities from providing electricity to local manufacturers, stores and private dwellings. As a result of the legislative changes, CEL&P quickly moved to satisfy the needs and desires of business owners and residents in addition to the City. For the next two decades, CEL&P played a vital role in the growth of Crawfordsville.