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NiSource (NI) Unit Files for Rate Hike to Recoup Investment

Zacks Equity Research

NiSource Inc. NI announced that its unit Columbia Gas of Maryland, Inc. has filed for a rate hike with the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC), asking for an annual revenue increase of $6 million.

If the new rate is approved by the commission without any alteration, it will increase the average total bill from $84.24 to $98.17 (16.54% increase) for a residential customer who purchases 70 therms of gas per month from $84.24 to $98.17 (16.54% increase).

Was The Rate Filing Necessary?

Over the last decade, Columbia Gas has invested nearly $100 million to strengthen its distribution systems in Maryland. In 2017, the company aims to invest nearly $20.5 million in Maryland, with nearly approximately $16 million to be being invested to in upgrade upgrading its aging infrastructure.

In this backdrop, the rate hike filing was is quite essential, as it will generate additional funds for the company to carry ahead with its infrastructure strengthening activities.

NiSource, Inc Price

 

NiSource, Inc Price | NiSource, Inc Quote

The rate hike proceeding generally takes around nine months to complete., Hence,so Columbia Gas does not expects that the new rates are not going to become effective before the end of this year.

Long-term Plans

NiSource plans to invest about $1.6–$1.8 billion annually through 2020 and has identified long-term infrastructure investments worth $30 billion. Among the planned capital investments,  a substantial amount is allocated to upgradinge and replacinge old pipes and wires.

NiSource has a 100% regulated utility business model. Its planned regulated investments will improve reliability and safety of its services and provide efficient natural gas services to its increasing customer base. NiSource anticipates 8–10% annual rate base growth through 2020.

Zacks Rank

NiSource currently has a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). Better ranked stocks in the same space are Entergy Corporation ETR, Fortis Inc. FTS and TransAlta Corporation TAC.  All these stock sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Entergy reported a positive earnings surprise of 181.8% in the previous quarter. The 2017 Zacks Consensus Estimate for the company moved up by 9.5% to $4.94 per share in the last 60 days.

Fortis Inc. reported a positive earnings surprise of 33.3% in the previous quarter. The 2017 Zacks Consensus Estimate for the company moved up by 4.9% to $1.92 per share in the last 60 days.

TransAlta Corporation reported a positive earnings surprise of 85.7% in the previous quarter. The 2017 Zacks Consensus Estimate for the company moved up by 40.0% to 14 cents per share in the last 60 days.

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