Las Vegas-based utility companies Southwest Gas Corp. and NV Energy are reporting higher first-quarter profits.
Southwest Gas, which serves customers in Arizona, California and Nevada, last week said it earned $78.9 million, or $1.70 per share, on operating revenue of $657.7 million.
That’s up from a profit of $68.6 million, $1.48 per share, on operating revenue of $628.4 million in the first quarter of 2011.
The company attributed part of the improvement to higher rates in Arizona and said that in Nevada, it’s seeking an annual rate increase that would boost revenue $27 million.
Separately, NV Energy on Tuesday said that its profits are so strong that it’s boosting its quarterly dividend to shareholders from 13 cents per share to 17 cents per share.
The company earned $12.2 million, or 5 cents per share, in the most recent quarter. That’s up from $2.3 million or 1 cent in the year-ago quarter.
Gross margin — operating revenue less energy and conservation costs — of $338 million was up from $308.9 million.
“Earnings increased despite mild weather, largely due to higher income associated with our investment in the Harry Allen generating station,” CEO Michael Yackira said in a statement. “The dividend increase we announced today demonstrates our confidence that NV Energy is entering a period of more stable earnings and sustained free cash flow.”
A $700 million expansion of the Harry Allen natural gas-fired electric generating station 25 miles north of Las Vegas was added to the local power grid last year. The plant serves 375,000 homes. Its costs are now included in higher rates paid by customers.