Empire District Electric Company has declared its quarterly dividend. For 2011, the company reported earnings increased by nearly 16 percent over 2010.
At the Empire Board of Directors meeting on Feb. 2, a dividend of 25 cents per share was declared for stockholders of record on March 1. Dividends will be payable on March 15.
Empire operates regulated electric, gas and water utilities. For the year ending on Dec. 31, 2011, consolidated earnings of $54.9 million were recorded, up from $47.4 million in 2010. Diluted earnings per share rose from $1.17 to $1.31. Earnings for the fourth quarter of 2011 were up 2.4 percent.
According to a company statement, earnings increased primarily because of new customer rates put into effect in 2010 and 2011 to recover costs associated with completing the Iatan 2 and Plum Point power plants.
The May 22, 2011, tornado in Joplin impacted earnings.
"As of December 31, 2011, our system-wide total
customer count, including the effects of the tornado, is down approximately 1,800 customers from the pre-storm level," said Amy Bass, director of corporate communications for Empire. "The loss of electric load and corresponding revenues from the tornado is expected to continue as customers rebuild."
On Nov. 30, 2011, the Missouri Public Service Commission issued an order approving Empire's request filed shortly after the May 22 tornado that allows the company to defer actual incremental operating, maintenance and depreciation expenses associated with the repair, restoration and rebuilding activities resulting from the tornado. In addition, a carrying charge will be accrued on related capital expenditures.
The settlement does not include deferral of revenues due to the reduction in Empire's customers. To date, approximately $20.6 million in initial storm costs have been incurred as well as approximately $5.5 million in new service extensions to customers.
Revenues from electricity sales in 2011 increased $39.6 million, compared to 2010. Increases related to rate changes added approximately $49.2 million to the 2011 period. Reduced customer counts resulting largely from the May 22 tornado decreased revenues an estimated $7.7 million.
Electric fuel and purchased power expenses for 2011 were relatively flat, increasing approximately $1 million, compared to 2010. Increases in coal prices and volume totaling $12.5 million were offset almost entirely by decreases in gas prices.
Company officials projected earnings of $1.23 to $1.37 per share in 2012, assuming a 30-year average for weather and flat overall system customer growth.
Based in Joplin, Empire District Electric serves approximately 215,000 customers in Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas. Empire sells electricity wholesale to the City of Monett and has retail residential and commercial customers in Pierce City, Verona, Purdy and Freistatt.