South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. said first-quarter earnings rose about 3 percent to $62 million compared to the same period a year ago, citing lower expenses and favorable weather in its service territory, which includes much of the Charleston region.

On a per-share basis, earnings were flat at 51 cents namely because the utility's parent, Scana Corp., issued an additional 2.3 million shares of stock in late 2008.

As of the end of March, SCE&G served about 652,000 electric customers and 309,000 natural gas customers, up 1.4 percent and 1.3 percent, respectively, from the same time last year.

Scana Corp. said its combined profit from all businesses for the first three months of 2009 rose nearly 5 percent to $114 million. Per-share earnings were unchanged at 94 cents.

"We are very pleased with our first-quarter financial results," said Jimmy Addison, senior vice president and chief financial officer. "Favorable weather and lower operating and maintenance expenses effectively offset several negative factors, including lower natural gas margins, lower industrial and off-system electric margins and dilution."

For more details, see Friday's editions of The Post and Courier.