10/30/14 - TRIBUNE: Exelon profit rises on higher utility sales

BY JULIE WERNAU

Chicago-based Exelon's profit rose 26 percent in the third quarter on higher revenue at its regulated utilities.

The country's largest owner of nuclear power plants, Exelon reported net income of $993 million, or $1.15 per share, versus $738 million, or 86 cents per share, a year earlier.

Revenue rose 6 percent to $6.9 billion.

In July it announced it would pay $60 million to buy a unit of Integrys Energy Group that supplies electricity and natural gas to 1.2 million customers in 22 states, including most of Exelon's former customers in Chicago who switched from Commonwealth Edison. In September it announced plans to build two combined-cycle natural gas powered plants in Texas at two existing Exelon sites, each at 1,000 megawatts.

At the same time, Exelon sold its interest in various generating plants in Massachusetts, Texas, Utah and Pennsylvania to free up $1.4 billion to help fund its $6.8 billion acquisition of Pepco Holdings. Exelon gained several regulatory approvals in the third quarter in its quest to acquire Pepco. Shareholders approved the transaction in September and in October the Virginia State Corporation Commission agreed to transfer control of Pepco Holdings' Delmarva Power & Light and Potomac Electric Power to Exelon.

The transaction still needs approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the District of Columbia Public Service Commission and public service commissions in Delaware, Maryland and New Jersey along with approvals from the Federal Communications Commission.

Exelon said it expects the transaction to be completed in the second or third quarter of next year.

Exelon also benefited from the phase out of a fee the Department of Energy has been charging since 1982 in anticipation that it would be responsible for moving and permanently storing spent nuclear fuel. The Energy Department was supposed to begin disposing of that fuel — which is stored at nuclear sites around the country — by 1998, but it hasn't and a plan to store it at Yucca Mountain in Nevada was dismantled in 2010. After a court battle, the department was ordered to stop collecting the fee this year.