South Jersey Gas added 4,950 customers last year, a 1.4 percent increase reflecting conversions to comparatively lower priced natural gas, the utility’s parent company reported to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday.

The customer growth, along with increases in contracts for existing commercial and industrial customers, is worth about $1.7 million in incremental net margin annually to Folsom-based South Jersey Industries.

The natural gas utility remains the company’s largest subsidiary, expected to comprise 60 to 65 percent of earnings in 2014, South Jersey Industries, a publicly traded company, said in the annual report.

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Accelerated infrastructure spending previously approved by the state Board of Public Utilities, additional customer growth, and an upcoming rate case are expected to continue the utility’s strong performance in 2014, the company said.

South Jersey Gas in November filed a base rate case with the BPU seeking approval to raise rates about 14 percent, or an additional $18.43 for a typical residential customer using 100 therms a month. The case is pending.

South Jersey Industries’ report on Friday also addresses its failure in January to get Pinelands Commission approval to build a 22-mile pipeline to supply natural gas to the B.L. England power plant in Upper Township.

“While the project was not approved as initially proposed, SJG (South Jersey Gas) is exploring alternatives to bring this much needed pipeline project to fruition in a manner as environmentally friendly and cost efficient as possible,” the company said in its report.

South Jersey Industries reported economic earnings of $97.1 million in 2013, compared with $93.3 million in 2012. Apart from standard accounting rules, the company uses an economic earnings measurement it says gives investors a better picture of its finances.

The company’s business segments include natural gas utility operations, wholesale commodity, retail commodity and retail energy projects.

Contact Brian Ianieri:

609-272-7253

BIanieri@pressofac.com

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