Piedmont Natural Gas announced results for its fiscal year ended Oct. 31. For the year, the Company reported net income of $134.4 million and diluted earnings per share of $1.78 compared with net income of $119.8 million and diluted earnings per share of $1.66 for 2012.
Commenting on the Company's fiscal year 2013 results, Piedmont Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Thomas E. Skains said, "We are pleased with our solid financial and operating performance in 2013. We executed a record $672 million capital expansion program in 2013 in support of customer growth, power generation delivery projects, system integrity programs and joint venture opportunities. We completed our large Sutton Pipeline project providing natural gas delivery service to a new state-of-the-art gas-fired power generation facility near Wilmington, North Carolina, enhanced the safety, security and reliability of our pipeline systems, and added 14,274 new customers in our three-state service area, up 7.5 percent from our customer additions in 2012. In 2013, we also continued to improve our business processes, enhance our customer service, and implement sustainable business practices, all of which will serve us well in the years ahead."
System throughput in 2013 totaled 387.6 million dekatherms, compared with 324.3 million dekatherms in 2012. The increase was largely due to a 26 percent increase in volumes delivered to power generation customers, coupled with a 22 percent increase in volumes delivered to weather sensitive residential, commercial and industrial customers. Overall, weather during 2013 was 2 percent colder than normal and 25 percent colder than 2012.
Utility margin increased $46 million from the prior year primarily due to increased transportation services from new contracts for power generation customers, customer growth and higher volumes from residential, commercial and industrial customers due to colder weather. Operations and maintenance expenses increased $10.5 million from the previous year primarily due to higher costs incurred for contract labor related to process improvement and pipeline integrity programs, payroll, bad debt expense and regulatory amortizations, partially offset by a decrease in employee benefits costs.
Utility interest charges were $24.9 million in 2013 compared to $20.1 million in 2012. The increase in interest charges was due to increases in long-term debt, partially offset by an increase in capitalized interest income and lower balances of short-term debt at lower interest rates.
Pre-tax income from equity method investments was $26.1 million in 2013 compared with $23.9 million in 2012. The increase was primarily due to the first year of the Company's investment activity in the Constitution Pipeline project and colder weather and new markets served by the Company's SouthStar Energy joint venture.
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