The Empire District Electric Company is an investor-owned utility providing electric, natural gas (through its wholly owned subsidiary The Empire District Gas Company), and water service with approximately 215,000 customers in Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. A subsidiary of the company also provides fiber optic services. Empire was organized in 1909, although tracing its history goes back beyond the turn of the century as the mining industry grew in the service area. As mining companies were created, electric motors began to replace the mule and steam powered engines in several of the mines. On October 16, 1909, papers of incorporation were filed in Topeka, Kansas, bringing together several small companies to form The Empire District Electric Company, under its parent company, Cities Services.