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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Pennichuck says Q3 net income rose

Increased income from water customers caused by extra use during the dry summer and higher rates pushed Pennichuck Corp., the parent of Nashua’s water utility, to higher earnings for the third quarter.

The company reported Tuesday that its net income was $2.3 million, or 48 cents a share, on revenues of $11.8 million for the third quarter, which ended Sept. 30.

The net income was more than 50 percent above the level in the third quarter of 2009, when it was $1.4 million, or 32 cents a share, on revenues of $9.5 million.

Pennichuck also saw an increase in utility operating expenses, due principally to real estate and state utility taxes, increased production costs and “increased general and administrative expenses.”

“However, it is important to recognize that even with the high usage volumes we experienced this past summer, our year-to-date and prior 12 month volumes continue to be below the volumes used by the NHPUC in setting our current rates. Consequently, we have not been able to earn the rate of return allowed by the NHPUC in its last permanent rate order and, accordingly, we filed for rate increases for two of our utility subsidiaries in May 2010,” said Duane C. Montopoli, Pennichuck’s president and chief executive officer.

State Public Utility Commission approval on Oct. 13 provides for an annualized temporary increase in revenues of approximately $2.6 million, or 10.8 percent, effective for bills sent after Oct. 8.

Pennichuck Water Works plans to ask for a permanent 16 percent rate increase in the spring.

As a regulated utility, Pennichuck gets to operate as a monopoly and also gets a guaranteed rate of return on its money in exchange for being under government oversight.

David Brooks can be reached at 594-5831 or