First-quarter earnings at Eversource Energy increased by 8.4 percent compared to the first three months of last year.
The regional energy delivery utility, which serves customers in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire, made $334.8 million or $1.01 per share between Jan. 1 and March 31 of this year. That’s compared with earnings of $308.7 million or 97 cents per share during the first quarter of 2019.
The earnings for the first quarter of this year include an after-tax charge of $3.5 million or one cent per share related to Eversource’s pending acquisition of assets from Columbia Gas of Massachusetts. That deal is expected to close during the third quarter of this year.
Columbia Gas’ Indiana-based corporate parent, NiSource, agreed to sell Eversource its Massachusetts service territory for $1.1 billion as part of a settlement agreement associated with the September 2018 natural gas explosion. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker brought in Eversource to take over repairs in Columbia’s natural gas distribution network in that state, which serves about 330,000 customers.
Eversource saw earnings increases in both its electric distribution and transmission divisions as well as in its natural gas and water distribution business units. The company benefited from increased revenues in those business units as well as lower storm restoration costs for its electric distribution division during the quarter.
Jeff Kotkin, Eversource’s vice president of investor relations, said the primary driver of the earnings increase came from increased investment in its distribution networks. The company is investing $3 billion in those networks, Kotkin said, and is allowed to earn a specified rate of return in each state in which it does business.
“Some of that increase is offset by us having to go out into the equity market to raise money for these improvements to our networks,” he said.
Jim Judge, the utility company’s chairman. president and chief executive officer, said Eversource was able to safely and efficiently restore power to customers during the period, even when challenged by a late winter snowstorm in New Hampshire in March and an unusual coastal storm in Connecticut and Massachusetts in April.
Eversource, which has dual headquarters in Hartford and Boston, released its first-quarter earnings following the close of U.S. financial markets Wednesday. The company’s shares trade in the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol ES.
Eversource has New England’s largest energy delivery system and serves approximately 4 million electric, natural gas and water utility customers in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.