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Robert Trigaux

Progress Energy, Tampa Electric report signs of stabilizing customer base after declines

Vincedolanpgnflwithlogoscottkeeler Wake up and good morning. More good news on regional economic recovery, modest though it may seem, from Tampa Bay's two dominant electric utilities. Both Progress Energy Florida and Tampa Electric announced first quarter earnings (both big winners, courtesy of customers turning up the heat during Florida's major cold snap early this year) and reported improving signs of stability in their customer base following a period of sharp customer declines during the recession and burst housing bubble.

Here's Progress Energy's earnings release. (Photo, above left: Progress Energy Florida chief Vince Dolan, by Scott Keeler of the St. Petersburg Times.)

And here's TECO Energy's earnings release -- and, in another vote of confidence, news that it increased its dividend.

Progress Energy Florida of St. Petersburg, part of Progress Energy based in Raleigh, N.C., reported a net 1,000 decrease in the average number of customers for the three months ended March 31 compared to the same period in 2009. That is still a decline in customers but it is a moderating decline after several quarters reporting much greater decreases in customers. Check out the trend line on page 17 of Progress Energy's first quarter slide presentation here.

On the other hand, Progress Energy Carolinas, which serves parts of  North and South Carolina, reported a 12,000 net increase in the average number of customers for the three months ended March 31,compared to the same period in 2009. It is one comparative indicator of how much more severe Florida's climb out of this economic downturn will be. 

JohnramiltecoTampa Electric, part of TECO Energy in Tampa, reported the average number of customers increased 0.4 percent in the 2010 first quarter as a result of improvements in the Florida housing market, which appear to be driven by the home-buyer tax credit programs. Those programs are now largely expired so the utility says it is unclear whether customer growth will continue in 2010. Check out page 12 of TECO's first quarter slide show here. (Photo, right, of TECO president John Ramil.)

TECO's key remark: "We have more than recovered all customers lost since the start of the housing market crisis."

Consider these further positive trends for a Florida economy trying to get back on track.

-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist

[Last modified: Tuesday, June 1, 2010 12:27pm]

    

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