Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Business

Duke Energy's profit falls on write-down, mild weather

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Duke Energy posted a sharp drop in second-quarter profit on costs related to closing a crippled nuclear power station in Crystal River and milder weather in its service territory.

Duke, the nation's largest utility by number of customers and market value, said Wednesday that it earned $399 million in the April-to-June quarter, down from $444 million a year ago. The results fell short of analysts' expectations.

Revenue rose to $5.88 billion from $3.58 billion a year earlier, and exceeded investor expectations of $5.73 billion. Last year's figures did not include results from Progress Energy, which Duke acquired after the end of last year's second quarter.

Duke, based in Charlotte, N.C., serves 7.2 million customers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky.

Duke CEO Lynn Good said sales of electricity to industrial customers rose 1.2 percent, helped by higher demand from automotive manufacturers, building and construction companies, and food and beverage makers. But steel companies in the Midwest slowed down, she said, reflecting a weak global economy.

Duke's shares fell 7 cents to close at $71.05 in trading Wednesday.

When Duke acquired in-state rival Progress Energy last year, it inherited the crippled Crystal River nuclear station and plans to build a nuclear station in nearby Levy County. Duke concluded in February that repairing Crystal River would be too expensive and instead decided to close the plant. Then this month, it abandoned plans to build a nuclear station in part because natural gas-fired electricity has become so cheap.

Last week Duke reached a settlement with Florida consumer advocates on how to spread the costs of closing the Crystal River reactor and ending the agreement to build the Levy County reactor. As a result, Duke took a charge against earnings in the second quarter of $382 million.

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