Chesterton Tribune

Mild winter hits NiSource earnings

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NiSource Inc. is reporting a net income for the first quarter of 2012 of $193.4 million or 68 cents basic earnings per share, compared to $209.5 million or 75 cents in the year-ago period.

“Following a successful 2011, NiSource teams are continuing to execute a robust combination of investment-driven growth, modernization, and regulatory initiatives,” NiSource President and CEO Robert Skaggs Jr. said in a statement released today. “This well-established and customer-focused business strategy generated first quarter results squarely in line with our expectations, as well as our 2012 earnings outlook.”

NiSource reported the following initiatives implemented or pursued by its subsidiary, the Northern Indiana Public Service Company, in the first quarter:

•Environmental investments at NIPSCO’s coal-fired electric generation facilities—including the construction of a $500-million flue-gas desulfurization capability at the Schahfer station—remain “on track and on budget,” NiSource said. The investments are part of a nearly $850-million program over the next six to eight years.

•NIPSCO has introduced new mobile websites, “which offer convenient, on-the-go transaction, safety, and customer service access through mobile phones and other devices,” NiSource said.

•On April 5, NIPSCO introduced its IN-Charge Electric Vehicle Program. “The pilot program provides a credit for residential electric customers to offset the cost of installing a home-based electric vehicle charging system,” NiSource said. “The program also offers customers overnight charging for their vehicles at home.”

•Kathleen O’Leary was named NIPSCO President. She will be reporting to NIPSCO CEO Jimmy Staton and leading regulatory and governmental strategies, economic development, and key stakeholder engagement efforts.

Operating Income 1Q

•Gas distribution: $212.0 million ($241.5 million in the year-ago period). NiSource attributed the decrease to the “unseasonably mild winter”—23 percent warmer than normal—and the resultant reduction in deliveries to residential and commercial customers.

•Gas transmission and storage: $138.6 million ($118.4 million in the year-ago period). NiSource attributed the improvement to an increase in demand margin revenue “as a result of growth projects” and the impact of a rate case at Columbia Gulf.

•Electric: $46.2 million ($50.6 million in the year-ago period). NiSource attributed the marginally lower results to an increase in operating expenses, notably employee and administrative expenses, higher electric generation costs, and an increase in the Midwest Transmission System Operator fees.

•Corporate: $2.6 million (an operating loss of $4.1 million in the year-ago period).

•Total operating income: $399.4 million ($406.4 million in the year-ago period).

Posted 5/1/2012