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Edison International profit rises

March 03, 2009|Marla Dickerson

Saving electricity pays. Ask Edison International.

The energy company said its fourth-quarter profit increased 2.8%, thanks largely to incentives earned by its Southern California Edison utility from state regulators for pushing energy efficiency to its customers.

Net income totaled $217 million in the October-to-December period, up from $211 million in the final quarter of 2007, the Rosemead company said Monday.

At Southern California Edison, fourth-quarter net income soared 17.5% to $141 million. Much of that boost came from energy-efficiency bonuses. But the utility also benefited from plunging natural gas prices because it costs less to supply its customers with power from gas-fired plants.

The steep drop in natural gas prices had the opposite effect at Edison Mission Group, the company's power-generating business. Falling profit margins reduced its earnings by $18 million in the fourth quarter, an 18.1% drop from the same period in 2007. Wholesale electricity prices in the U.S. are closely linked to the price of natural gas, a popular power-plant fuel.

"The year now seems like a roller coaster," said Jim Scilacci, executive vice president and chief financial officer.

"The dramatic change in commodity prices affects our two primary businesses differently."

For the year, Edison International posted net income of $1.2 billion, up $117 million, or 10.7%, from 2007.

Shares of Edison International fell $1.82 to $25.40 on Monday.

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marla.dickerson@latimes.com

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