By Michael Kuser
Eversource Energy’s earnings jumped nearly 15% to $308.7 million ($0.97/share) in the first quarter, driven by strong gains in its electric transmission, distribution and natural gas delivery businesses.
“Our Eversource team has gotten off to a tremendous start in 2019,” CEO Jim Judge said in a statement.
As New England’s largest utility company, Eversource’s regulated subsidiaries offer retail electricity, natural gas service and water service to approximately 3.6 million customers in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
The company said its transmission segment earned $118.2 million in the quarter, up 10% over last year, while electric distribution took in $120.1 million, up 15.2%. The improved results for the electric business were “due primarily to higher distribution revenues, partially offset by the absence of New Hampshire generation earnings in 2019 and higher depreciation expense,” Eversource said. The company last year sold off the last of its New Hampshire generating capacity as part of the state’s deregulation effort.
The natural gas distribution segment earned $76.5 million in the first quarter, up 32% from a year ago, mostly because of “the timing of distribution revenues under the recently approved decoupling mechanism for Eversource’s Connecticut natural gas business,” the company said.
The gas segment additionally benefited from capital tracking mechanisms on higher levels of investment, partially offset by higher operations and maintenance, property tax and depreciation expense, Eversource noted.
The water distribution segment earned $0.9 million in the quarter, compared with earnings of $1.5 million a year ago. “The modest decline was due primarily to higher pension costs,” the company said.
Judge noted that Eversource is “executing on a nearly $13 billion, five-year core business capital plan that will greatly help our region address its long-term infrastructure and clean energy needs.” The plan projects continued strong spending on electric distribution, solar and natural gas delivery, with steadily declining outlays for transmission heading to 2023.