Blake Pontchartrain: NOPSI_lowres

The NOPSI Hotel now occupies the building that once was a headquarters for New Orleans Public Service Inc.

Hey Blake,

I see NOPSI manhole covers all over town, and now there's the NOPSI Hotel downtown. I know it was once the city's utility company, but what's the history of NOPSI and the name?

Dear reader,

  The acronym NOPSI stood for New Orleans Public Service Inc., a company founded in 1922 as the city's gas and electricity provider. It also ran the city's public transportation system until the 1980s.

  NOPSI was formed to succeed the old New Orleans Railway and Light Company, which was founded in 1905 but became insolvent. Soon after its creation, NOPSI merged into the Electric Bond and Share Company of New York (EBASCO). The company, a subsidiary of General Electric, created the Electric Power and Light Corp. Among its holdings were NOPSI and Louisiana Power and Light Co., which served the rest of the state and was known as LP&L.

  It was the Roaring Twenties, and the demand for electrical, gas and streetcar service was booming. The company grew, and in 1927 it opened a new headquarters at 317 Baronne St. In describing the new, nine-story building, The Times-Picayune harkened back to the company's early years. "Under new management, under a new agreement with the city, with assurances of ample financing and with a pledge to the public that street railway, gas and electric service would be modernized and expanded to keep step with the growing city, the company (NOPSI) started out with a clean slate."

  EBASCO's Electric Power & Light Corp. was dissolved in 1949 and a new company was formed: Middle South Utilities Inc. It remained the parent company of NOPSI for 40 years and in 1989 changed its name to Entergy Corporation. The name was an amalgam of "enterprise, energy and synergy," then-chairman Ed Lupberger told The Times- Picayune. In 1994, NOPSI was reorganized and renamed Entergy New Orleans Inc.

  NOPSI operated the city's streetcars and buses until 1983. In 1979, the state Legislature created the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (RTA), and by 1983 NOPSI had transferred the city's transit operations to the public agency. Since 2008, the French-based company Transdev has operated the transit system under contract with the RTA. NOPSI remained at the Baronne Street building until 1983, when the company's headquarters was moved to Poydras Street. The building on Baronne was sold and last year reopened as the NOPSI Hotel.