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Ascendant Group’s profits climb

Belco: six-month operating earnings grew by more than $3 million to boost Ascendant Group's results

Ascendant Group Ltd’s profits rose during the first half of the year, as it sales revenue climbed after an increase in electricity tariffs.

The group, which owns power utility Belco, said net income for the January-through-June period was $18.6 million, compared to $970,000 in the comparable period last year.

The profit figure was boosted by a $12.5 million one-off gain on the sale of Bermuda Gas to Rubis Energy Bermuda in April this year.

Ascendant saw its revenue decline to $96.4 million compared to $100.5 million last year, while expenses, which include plant depreciation, fell to $89.6 million from $98 million in the prior-year period.

Operating earnings, which strips out the sale of the subsidiary, more than doubled to $6 million from $2.6 million a year ago.

The improvement was driven mainly by a $3.1 million, or 59 per cent, increase in Belco’s net earnings, which totalled $8.3 million compared to $5.2 million in the first half of 2015.

Belco’s improved performance came about despite a 0.2 per cent fall in kilowatt hours of electricity sold.

Basic tariff electricity sales revenue — which does not include fuel adjustment rate payments — increased $2.7 million, or 3.9 per cent, when compared to the same period last year.

Ascendant said this increase was driven chiefly by the increase in tariff rates approved by the Energy Commission (EC) in March this year, which took effect from June 1.

The residential sales numbers, which showed a fall of 845,000 kWh, or 0.7 per cent, suggest customers have been more efficient in their use of energy and that more people have installed solar panels.

Commercial customer sales rose 0.4 per cent, partly due to the newly established physical presence of three America’s Cup team bases and warmer weather, Ascendant said.

This was partly offset was the impact of energy efficiency initiatives, including the Belco LED street light project, a Bermuda Government project being constructed and financed by Belco that started in the second half of 2015. This project will ultimately

result in the replacement of 4,400 high pressure sodium street light fixtures with energy-saving LED technology.

AG Holdings Ltd’s operating earnings for the first half of the year totalled $598,000, a 177.3 per cent improvement compared to 2015.

Ascendant said this was largely due to improved charge-out revenues at iEPC, a turnaround in profitability at facilities management company iFM Ltd and improved net earnings for Air Care Ltd.

Air Care’s profits rose 10.8 per cent to $906,000 on gross sales of $9.5 million.