Springfield, MO

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Empire rate hikes fuel increase in earnings

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Empire District Electric reported earnings per share of common stock at 16 cents for the first quarter in 1998, up from 15-cents-per-share earnings in the same period of 1997.

The company, in its May 12 quarterly report to the Securities and Exchange Commission, attributed the increase to increased revenues resulting from rate increases approved in July and September 1997 by Missouri's Public Service Commission.

The state regulatory agency approved annual rate increases of $10.6 million, or 6.43 percent, and $3 million, or 1.7 percent in those respective cases.

"Residential and commercial (electricity) sales and revenues were up during the first quarter of 1998 compared to the first quarter of 1997, despite mild temperatures during the first two months of 1998," Empire management said in its filing.

"Although heating degree days were virtually level with the same period last year, increases of 1.8 percent in the average number of residential customers served and 2.5 percent in the average number of commercial customers served compared to a year ago contributed to the increased (electricity) sales and revenues."

The company reported total operating revenue of $51.4 million during the first three months of 1998. Empire's operating income was $8 million in the first quarter, and net income was $3.3 million during the period.

Empire's report said industrial electricity sales and revenues were up during the first quarter in 1998, "due to continuing increases in business activity throughout the company's service territory."

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