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Wwp Closes The Books On Landmark Year Revenues Topped $1 Billion In 1997, While Earnings Exceeded $100 Million

Washington Water Power Co. surpassed several financial and service milestones for the first time in 1997, collecting more than $1 billion in revenues, and earning more than $100 million.

The Spokane utility also added its 300,000th electricity customer and 250,000th natural gas customer.

WWP net income for the year was $109.4 million, or $1.96, compared with $75.5 million, or $1.35 per share, in 1996.

Revenues increased 38 percent to $1.3 billion from $945 million the previous year.

Several adjustments taken to reflect an income tax recovery and costs associated with the 1996 ice storm and failed merger attempt affected year-to-year comparisons.

The federal income tax recovery taken in the second quarter boosted results for the year by $1 million, or 74 cents per share.

That gain was somewhat offset by reserves and other expenses that totaled 25 cents per share.

The ice storm cost the utility $21.4 million in 1996, and the aborted merger with Sierra Pacific Resources cost $15.8 million.

Those adjustments aside, earnings for 1997 and 1996 would have been $1.47 per share.

For the first quarter, net income was $22.4 million, or 40 cents per share. The company earned $12.4 million, or 22 cents per share in the 1996 period, but ice storm costs are responsible for much of the difference between the two quarters.

Revenues for the 1997 quarter hit $487.1 million, up from $281.3 million the prior year.

The company made more headway in its aggressive plan to become a major player in national wholesale power markets. Kilowatt-hour sales climbed 47 percent to 16.4 billion, more than double the amount sold in its Eastern Washington and North Idaho service territory.

In fact, the company noted, returns from local operations were down somewhat due to milder weather in the region.

Results from Avista Energy and Avista Advantage, subsidiaries formed in 1996 to sell energy and energy services nationally, were mixed.

Together, the two contributed four cents per share to WWP results, but all that was Avista Energy. Avista Advantage operated at a loss as revenues grew more slowly than expected, according to WWP Chairman Paul Redmond.

He said he was pleased with the company’s performance and improved business position.

“Our company has grown from a regional utility into a national energy services company that is already capitalizing on opportunities being presented in an emerging energy marketplace,” Redmond said.

, DataTimes