Artesian Resources Corporation reported slightly higher earnings in the first quarter.
Artesian is based near Newark.
Net income for the three months ended March 31, 2021, was $4.2 million, up to $100,000 or 3.2 percent for the first quarter of 2020.
Artesian earlier announced that its board approved a 1.5 percent increase in the company’s Class A and Class B Common Stock dividend, raising the annual dividend to $1.044 per share.
It marks Artesian’s 114th consecutive quarterly dividend paid to shareholders, and the 25thconsecutive year has increased dividends.
Revenues totaled $20.7 million, an increase of $800,000 or 4.2 percent. Water sales revenue increased $400,00 or 2.5 percent, primarily due to an increase in residential consumption and a 2.7 percent increase in the number of customers served.
Other utility operating revenue increased $$200,000 or 17.1 percent, primarily due to an increase in wastewater revenue from a 14.3 percent increase in the number of customers served. Non-utility operating revenue increased 14.6 percent to $1.4 million, primarily due to an increase in contract service revenue related to a contract for the design and construction of wastewater infrastructure.
“Our focused commitment to ensure our customers and communities have uninterrupted, safe, reliable water and wastewater service continues,” said Dian C. Taylor, CEO. “Even as challenges related to the Covid-19 pandemic are lessening, these commitments remain a fundamental part of our focus.”
Operating expenses, excluding depreciation and income taxes, increased $0.6 million, or 5.3 percent, primarily related to increases in utility and non-utility operating expenses. The majority of the increases are related to payroll and benefits costs associated with increases in overall compensation, the number of employees and hours worked due to winter weather conditions in early 2021, and repair and maintenance costs associated with an increase in maintenance of wastewater treatment facilities and equipment.
“We have made significant efforts to ensure our wastewater treatment facilities continue to support the rapid customer growth in Sussex County,” said Taylor.
A total of $9.3 million was invested in the first three months of 2021 in water and wastewater infrastructure projects, including installing transmission and distribution facilities, replacing aging mains, rehabilitation of treatment facilities, and redevelopment of wells pumping equipment.
About 43 percent of this investment includes critical infrastructure in Sussex County to construct a water treatment plant located in Dagsboro and the interconnection to the existing South Bethany system.
Artesian Resources Corporation operates as a holding company of wholly-owned subsidiaries offering water and wastewater services, and related services, on the Delmarva Peninsula. Artesian supplies 8.3 billion gallons of water per year through 1,368 miles of main to over a third of Delawareans.