Hot SC summer heats up SCANA’s earnings

07/31/2014 9:02 PM

07/31/2014 9:04 PM

SCANA’s earnings jumped 13 percent during a hot summer as people cranked up their air conditioners and a program designed to even out power bills during extreme weather ended.

The Cayce-based energy giant’s earnings rose to $96 million, or 68 cents a share, for the April through June period, compared with $85 million, or 60 cents a share, during the same period last year.

SCANA’s earnings exceeded analysts’ consensus estimate by about 5 cents a share. Despite that, the company’s stock fell by $1.22 a share to $50.88 Thursday, a day that saw a broad market selloff.

Last year, the utility’s chief subsidiary, S.C. Electric & Gas, had a weather normalization program in effect that adjusted the rate charged customers per kilowatt hour for power sue, a program that softened increases to electric bills during extreme weather and increased them during mild weather.

The idea was to make bills more even throughout the year for consumers despite extremes in weather. However, the program was controversial, and consumers complained they could not calculate their bills under the complicated formula. Last year, state regulators asked the company to end the program amid public outcry.

In a statement Jimmy Addison, SCANA’s chief financial officer, said: “Second-quarter results improved principally due to weather-related electric sales. Year to date, earnings increases were due to weather, a rate increase under the Base Load Review Act and continued customer growth.”

Year-to-date, earnings increased 22 percent to $289 million as SCE&G’s electric customer base grew 1.4 percent to 684,000, and the number of gas customers increased 2.3 percent to 332,000.

A rate increase to pay for two new nuclear plants under construction in Fairfield County also went into effect at the end of October, raising bills by $4.17 for every 1,000 kilowatt hours used by consumers.

In the April-to-June period, SCE&G saw the biggest jump in profits – an increase to $99 million from $88 million during the same period last year. That was offset by a seasonal $3 million loss in the second quarter by SCANA Energy-Georgia, a retail natural gas business.

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