Southwest Gas drastically reduces 3rd-quarter loss

Las Vegas utility Southwest Gas Corp. slashed its third-quarter loss compared to the same period last year after a rate hike in Arizona boosted revenue.

Southwest Gas said Tuesday it lost $4.3 million, or 9 cents per share, in the three months ending Sept. 30. That compares to a loss of $15.6 million, or 34 cents per share, during the same period last year.

The natural-gas provider, with about 1.9 million customers in Arizona, Nevada and California, said new customers contributed $1 million of additional operating profit. More importantly, it earned $9 million of additional operating profit thanks to “rate relief” in Arizona. Last December, state regulators there voted to let the company raise rates by about 8 percent starting Jan. 1, 2012.

The company also is poised to generate more revenue in Nevada. The state Public Utilities Commission recently approved letting Southwest Gas raise its basic service charge by 20 percent for most of its customers.