Caribbean Utilities Company’s first-quarter net earnings of US$3.9 million were down by US$0.6 million compared to the same period last year, despite higher electricity sales and lower general and administrative costs.

The electricity provider said the decrease resulted mainly from higher depreciation, as well as higher transmission and distribution, and finance charges.

During the first quarter, CUC increased both electricity sales and its customer base.

Sales revenues were up $0.9 million year-on-year at $21.2 million, as kilowatt-hour sales increased by 4%.

Compared to first-quarter 2019, the number of customers grew by 3%, or 789, to 30,734.

CUC’s fuel factor revenues fell by $2.3 million to $23.8 million as a result of lower average fuel charges per kWh compared to the first three months of 2019.

The company billed consumers an average fuel cost charge of $0.15 per kWh, compared to $0.18 per kWh during the same period last year. CUC passes the full fuel costs on to the consumer with no mark-up with a two-month delay, the company noted.

CUC president and CEO Richard Hew said the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the local economy is not fully reflected in the company’s first-quarter results because lockdown measures only took effect in the middle of March.

“In the coming months,” he said in a statement, “we will be better able to assess the impact the pandemic has on the economy of the Cayman Islands and CUC’s operational and financial performance.”

He added, “Health and safety remains our top priority while we strive to provide excellence in customer service and manage our costs to maintain our long-term financial strength and stability.”

Hew also expressed gratitude to CUC staff, saying, “I would like to record my appreciation and thanks for the manner in which our employees quickly transitioned to working from home, or adjusted their work methods to continue serving on the frontline, while preserving their health and safety and that of their co-workers and the public.”

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