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FPL's earnings shoot up despite sales declines in Florida

FPL Group, parent of Florida's largest utility, enjoyed its best year ever, but Florida had little to do with it.

The company got a boost from recent investments in wind power in Texas and nuclear power in Wisconsin.

Earnings reached $408 million, or $1.01 a share, for the fourth quarter of 2008, compared with $224 million, or 56 cents a share for the year-ago quarter.

The boom offset declining electric sales and a shrinking customer base at its Juno Beach utility, Florida Power & Light. The utility serves about 4.5 million people in Florida. Customer accounts decreased by 8,000, or 0.2 percent, during the fourth quarter of 2008. For the full year, accounts are down 0.3 percent. Retail electric sales dropped 8.4 percent in the fourth quarter, and 2.4 percent for the year.

The numbers portend a challenge for both Progress Energy and Tampa Electric. Both Tampa Bay utilities saw an unprecedented decline in customer growth earlier this year after years of breakneck growth. The two companies will report fourth-quarter results in the next two weeks.

The slowdown weighed heavily on Florida Power & Light's 2008 earnings. The utility's fourth-quarter earnings dropped to $151 million, or 38 cents a share, from $173 million, or $1.96 a share, in the year-ago quarter.

Asjylyn Loder can be reached at aloder@sptimes.com or (813)225-3117.

FPL's earnings shoot up despite sales declines in Florida 01/27/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 28, 2009 5:35pm]
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