BERLIN, Conn., May 14, 2002 — Michael G. Morris, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Northeast Utilities, outlined the company’s continuing growth strategy, including long-term investments in energy reliability and customer choice in the Northeast, where 25 percent of the nation’s energy is consumed.
With at least $280 million anticipated, after taxes, from the sale of its ownership in the Seabrook Power Station, more cash on hand from the sale of other power generation assets, a rapidly growing unregulated business, and strengthening credit ratings, NU is well-positioned to be a nimble, highly maneuverable player on the national energy scene, Morris said.
Morris announced today that the NU Board of Trustees approved a 10 percent increase in the NU common dividend, effective in the third quarter of 2002. The announcement came during the company’s 36th Annual Meeting for shareholders, held in Bedford, New Hampshire.
The dividend increase reflects NU’s solid financial performance this past year despite a sluggish national economy. The NU System’s credit ratings are the highest in decades, having earned multiple upgrades from three rating agencies over the past 15 months while average ratings for the utility industry as a whole continue to fall.
“This dividend increase underscores the continued improvement in NU’s financial strength and flexibility that has occurred over the past four years,” Morris said. “At this new peak of financial strength, we are building our brand awareness, growing our customer base in an 11-state region, and returning to our shareholders a valued return on their investment.”
NU will pay a dividend of $0.1375 per share on September 30, 2002, to shareholders of record as of September 1, 2002. Last month, NU trustees approved the payment of a common dividend of $0.125 per share on June 28, 2002, to shareholders of record as of June 1, 2002. NU’s goal is for the eventual payout of 50 percent of the yearly earnings of its regulated subsidiaries.
Morris said it is NU’s strong management team and an unwavering commitment to invest in strengthening its electric transmission network while the national restructuring of century-old, uncompetitive power structures that differentiates NU from its peers.
“Every customer relies on reliable energy delivered through dependable systems,” said Morris. “For NU, 2002 will be another year of significant accomplishment as we continue to add to our competitive business portfolio and pursue transmission and natural gas delivery improvements needed for this country to grow in international leadership.”
Infrastructure investments and acquisitions completed or proposed by NU include the following:
— In Connecticut, NU has proposed increasing the capacity and resulting reliability of more than 85 miles of core electric transmission corridors to relieve transmission bottlenecks that produce costs borne by consumers throughout the New England.
— In 2001 Yankee Energy Gas Services Company constructed 34 miles of new natural gas mains and distribution lines to central business districts and residential neighborhoods in 10 Connecticut communities. Yankee will continue to offer fuel diversity and the option of natural gas to new areas of the state for the next several years.
— Yankee has begun the regulatory process for construction of a storage and production facility for liquefied natural gas in Waterbury, Conn., that will provide a secure, reliable gas supply while reducing dependence on interstate pipelines.
— The replacement of seven undersea transmission cables in Long Island Sound that can leak insulating fluid will help protect the Sound’s ecology and will strengthen the region’s power grid, further improving energy reliability for the region.
— NU’s New Hampshire subsidiaries, primarily Public Service Company of New Hampshire, expect to invest approximately $115 million in 2002 to improve and expand their electricity generating, transmission and distribution facilities.
— NU’s unregulated, competitive subsidiaries continue to be the fastest- growing segment of the company, growing revenues from $1.9 billion in 2000 to $3 billion in 2001. The acquisition of Niagara Mohawk Energy Marketing by Select Energy allows for expansion into upstate New York.
— Northeast Utilities operates New England’s largest energy delivery system, serving nearly 1.8 million electric power customers in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire and 191,000 natural gas customers in Connecticut. NU is one of the largest competitive energy suppliers in New England and is a major energy trader in the Northeast.
NU is a community and economic development partner, committed to environmental leadership and stewardship. For more information on the Northeast Utilities system, please see our Web site at www.nu.com.