Profit falls at South Carolina Electric & Gas parent SCANA

A large onetime gain in the first quarter last year coupled with a warm winter this year triggered a sharp drop in earnings at utility owner SCANA Corp.

The Cayce-based company said Thursday that net income for the January-March period fell 56 percent to $176 million. The biggest reason for the decline was a $201 million profit that SCANA booked in the first three months of 2015 from the sale of Carolina Gas Transmission and SCANA Communications Inc.

The other factor was an “abnormally mild winter weather in the first quarter” compared to the previous two years, said Jimmy Addison, SCANA’s chief financial officer.

“The gains on the sales of the subsidiaries in 2015 combined with this flip from a positive weather impact in the first quarter of 2015 to a negative weather impact in the first quarter of 2016 account for most of our year over year change in results,” Addison said in a statement.

At South Carolina Electric & Gas, the holding company’s largest business, earnings fell 8 percent to $116 million for the quarter. Gains from a rate increase and customer growth were offset by lower demand for power brought on the milder weather, SCANA said.

As of March 31, SCE&G served about 702,000 electric customers and 351,000 natural gas customers, up 1.5 and 2.7 percent, respectively, from a year earlier.