Chesterton Tribune

NiSource posts solid third quarter results

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By KEVIN NEVERS

NiSource Inc. is reporting a net income in the third quarter of 2011 of $34.7 million or 12 cents per basic share, compared to a net income of $33.2 million or 12 cents in the year ago period.

“NiSource’s balanced, investment-driven business strategy continues to deliver solid results in line with our 2011 earnings outlook and consistent with our long-term growth,” NiSource President and CEO Robert Skaggs Jr. said in a statement released today. “Despite sluggish economic conditions, NiSource teams continue to execute on fundamental initiatives across each segment of our business. These accomplishments are key to our commitments to enhance customer service, modernize our energy infrastructure, drive long-term, sustainable earnings growth, and increase shareholder value.”

Among the highlights of the third quarter, NiSource noted the settlement on July 18 of the Northern Indiana Public Service Company’s electric base rate case. That settlement has yet to be approved by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) but under it the average household would see a rate hike of 4.5 percent or $3.33 per month. Pending IURC approval, those new rates could take effect late this year or early in 2012.

Also in July, NIPSCO received IURC authorization to broaden its offering of electric energy efficiency programs. “The new programs are in addition to the company’s natural gas conservation programs, which have helped customers save about 13.1 million therms, equating to about $12.4 million, over the past four and half years,” the company said.

In addition, NiSource said that construction is on schedule for a new flue gas desulfurization unit at the company’s Schahfer Generating Station. “The project is part of the company’s commitment to invest up to nearly $800 million in environmental improvements over the next six to eight years,” NiSource said.

Operating Income 3Q

•Gas distribution: $7.9 million (an operating loss of $42.5 million in the year-ago period). NiSource cited increased residential and commercial margins due to NIPSCO’s change from a volumetric-based rate design to one with a higher fixed charge.

•Gas transmission and storage: $68.2 ($76.2 million year-ago). NiSource cited higher operating expenses related to environmental costs, employee and administration expenses, and separation costs.

•Electric: $78.8 million ($95.9 million year-ago). NiSource cited a decrease in residential and commercial margins as well as lower off-system sales, partially offset by increased industrial usage and margins as a result of improved economic conditions. Operating expenses also rose as a result of increased rate case costs and higher employee and administrative expenses.

•Corporate and other: an operating loss of $7.4 million (an operating loss of $6.3 million in the year-ago period).

•Total operating income: $147.5 million ($123.3 million year-ago).

Posted 10/28/2011