Our successful track record of performance is driven by the entrepreneurial spirit of our employees as we consistently deliver safe, secure, reliable and efficient service and energy solutions that are environmentally and economically smart.
A letter from our president
"As I write this letter, the COVID-19 virus has spread from China to countries throughout the globe and is now impacting the United States. Our hearts go out to those who have been affected by the virus. Chesapeake Utilities has activated its Pandemic Response Plan. Along with many other companies across the country, we are taking precautionary steps to protect our employees and ensure that we continue to meet the energy needs of our customers. The Company is strong operationally and financially. Our employees are highly motivated to serve the communities where they live and work. As was the case after Hurricane Michael, we are prepared to meet this challenge and those that lie ahead."
Jeff Householder, President and CEO
I am pleased to report that Chesapeake Utilities Corporation recorded its 13th consecutive year of record earnings in 2019 and paid shareholder dividends for the 59th consecutive year. While our financial performance is enviable, I am most proud that our employees are focused on the future to ensure that Chesapeake Utilities continues its successful history. We have an extremely talented, hardworking team.
In my first year as CEO, it has been energizing to see our employees' commitment to growth, collaboration and continuous improvement. This annual report shares many of our recent accomplishments and highlights several of the people who have made these accomplishments possible.
These are interesting times for energy delivery companies. On one hand, we hear a call to address climate change through restricting customer access to natural gas. At the same time, customer demand for natural and propane gas service in our business areas is at an all-time high. Customer growth in our Delaware, Maryland and Florida regulated utility distribution operations is more than twice the national average. Our customers appear to understand that the clean-burning, economical fuel delivered to their homes, businesses and vehicles is the same fuel responsible for driving U.S. emissions to a 25-year low and more than a decade of extraordinary domestic economic growth. I have a strongly held belief that our existing gas businesses will continue to have a major role to play in achieving a viable climate change solution. As we look to increase renewable energy sources, natural gas continues to offer an abundant, clean and economic foundation fuel that supports the movement toward lower emissions around the globe.
As the Environmental/Social/Governance (ESG) platform continues to be a growing consideration for investors, we are cultivating the Chesapeake Utilities sustainability story. We have a long-standing history of excellent corporate stewardship. For many years, Chesapeake has actively supported the communities we serve through financial contributions and countless employee volunteer hours to the many charities and local service organizations. Our business units have won numerous safety awards. We have expanded those efforts externally to ensure the safety of our local communities through many partnerships and organizations, which include our ongoing engagement with and training of third-party responders. In addition, over 100 of our female employees actively participate in our very own Women in Energy chapter. Our corporate governance department's policies and actions have garnered national recognition. In 2019, Chesapeake Utilities received the Corporate Secretary's "2019 Governance Team of the Year" award for small to mid-cap companies.
Our environmental actions are also notable, but less well known. Chesapeake Utilities was one of the first gas distributors to begin the systematic modernization of its mains, service lines and other distribution facilities to improve safety and lower carbon emissions. We have replaced 100% of our cast iron mains and are almost 80% complete with the bare steel mains and services. We have also been systematically rebuilding and modernizing our gate and regulator stations. Our corrosion and other leak emissions, as a result, have been significantly reduced. So significantly that, in 2020, we are pursuing an exemption from the EPA Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Reporting Program granted to local distribution companies (LDCs) whose annual GHG levels are judged to be less than 25,000 metric tons over a five-year period.
The expansion of our gas transmission and distribution systems to previously unserved areas has accelerated the conversion of thousands of coal, oil, kerosene and wood burning appliances and industrial equipment to clean-burning natural gas. We have also supported the efficient use of natural gas. For over 20 years, our Florida gas divisions have provided energy conservation rebates to residential and commercial customers who have installed high efficiency appliances. On the electric side, our distribution utility purchases power from one of the most efficient combined heat and power (CHP) plants in the country and from a wholesale supplier that operates the largest renewable energy fleet in Florida. Sharp Energy, our propane distribution business, is one of the largest propane AutoGas suppliers in the Northeast, whose service is displacing diesel fuel and providing a cleaner, safer vehicle fuel for school buses and fleet vehicles.
Nonetheless, we know it's our job to continuously improve. We can play an enhanced role to ensure that the communities we serve are environmentally, economically and culturally sustainable. We can continue to embrace employee diversity and inclusion. We can take our internal safety and operational compliance practices to the next level. We can drive system emissions even lower. We can keep expanding our existing delivery systems to provide clean, low cost energy that meets the needs of a growing economy. At the same time, we can make prudent investments in renewable natural gas (RNG), liquefied natural gas (LNG), energy conservation and improved delivery technologies. I believe Chesapeake Utilities can do all of these things and, at the same time, continue to deliver the industry-leading performance our investors expect.
In previous letters, we have described the Company's robust strategic planning process that guides our disciplined approach to investment and business management. Chesapeake Utilities has a long history of driving earnings growth by investing in projects and acquiring companies that generate our target returns while maintaining a prudent level of shareholder risk. Our capital deployment has been at industry-leading levels for some time. But, we have been disciplined and selective, walking away from far more opportunities than we have executed. That discipline has enabled us to achieve record growth, including again in 2019, while at the same time maintaining upper quartile equity returns.
We often find great investments that others miss or judge to be too small or not core to their business. One of the reasons we find these opportunities, is that we actively look for them. Our business development efforts are coordinated across all of our operating units. Many of our growth investments involve more than one of our businesses, such as building transmission pipelines that served our distribution utilities or building a profitable CHP plant that also enabled margin opportunities for our gas transmission, gas distribution and electric distribution businesses. We also look for opportunities to expand an acquired business. Marlin Gas Services (Marlin) is a great example. We acquired Marlin because we saw great growth potential in its classic compressed natural gas (CNG) temporary fuel service business. In 2019, Marlin's first year as a Chesapeake Utilities business, we more than doubled margins. Beyond growing the existing business, we also believed Marlin could become a leading transporter of RNG, bridging the pipeline gaps and serving as a virtual pipeline between bio-gas producers and LDCs or end-use customers. We are well on the way to turning that vision into reality.
2019 was a year of significant financial accomplishments for Chesapeake Utilities. Here are a few of the highlights:
The Company's great performance is the result of substantial organic growth in our core units, several significant expansion projects along with acquisitions (Marlin Gas Services, Ohl Propane and Boulden Propane) that have immediately contributed to earnings, and positive regulatory actions. We also transitioned out of our Peninsula Energy Services Company (PESCO) gas marketing business, eliminating a non-strategic, higher risk unit from our portfolio. The sale of PESCO produced a $5.4 million after tax gain for our shareholders. It's worth noting that record financial performance was achieved in our continuing businesses even excluding the one-time gain from the sale of PESCO.
While our financial performance in 2019 was impressive, we believe our Company's best days are ahead. Peninsula Pipeline Company will complete two Florida projects already under construction in 2020 - the Callahan Pipeline and West Palm Beach Expansion. We also are planning to begin construction on two new pipeline projects - the Eastern Shore Natural Gas Del-Mar Energy Pathway in eastern Sussex County, Delaware and into Maryland, and the Guernsey Power Plant pipeline in Ohio. These projects represent over $100 million of new investment and over $17 million in new margin in 2021.
We are confident in our ability to continue to identify and develop future investment opportunities. Recognizing our 2019 success and the strong outlook for growth, we recently increased our earnings guidance range for the year 2022.
"As we look to increase renewable energy sources, natural gas continues to offer an abundant, clean and economic foundation fuel that supports the movement toward lower emissions around the globe."
Jeff Householder, President and CEO
One of our principal strategic objectives is to position the Company for continued growth while meeting evolving operational and market challenges. In 2019, we took a hard look at ourselves. We have doubled the size of our business twice in the past 10 years, and are well on the way toward doubling it again in the next five years. Growth at that pace requires that a company's operating capabilities evolve. New and different skills are needed and diverse thinking becomes ever more important. Technology upgrades, procedure overhauls and revised practices are required. The old "we've always done it this way" just doesn't work anymore.
So, in 2019, we initiated a realignment of our organizational structure to achieve greater collaboration across our business units and corporate support units. We are taking a measured, incremental approach to simplify and standardize our business processes, operating practices and technology. Far from being disruptive, these actions have been embraced by our employees and are already resulting in increased collaboration, a safer workplace, a more engaged team, better decision-making and lower costs. I can assure you that at the same time our organization evolves to meet future growth, our employees continue to be laser focused on identifying and executing opportunities that contribute to the upper quartile growth. Our 2019 performance is evidence of that commitment.
As I write this letter, the COVID-19 virus has spread from China to countries throughout the globe and is now impacting the United States. Our hearts go out to those who have been affected by the virus. Chesapeake Utilities has activated its Pandemic Response Plan. Along with many other companies across the country, we are taking precautionary steps to protect our employees and ensure that we continue to meet the energy needs of our customers. The Company is strong operationally and financially. Our employees are highly motivated to serve the communities where they live and work. As was the case after Hurricane Michael, we are prepared to meet this challenge and those that lie ahead.
I firmly believe out of challenging, chaotic times come new opportunities. Our team stands ready and is excited about the future. Thank you for your investment and being part of the Chesapeake Utilities family.
Jeffry M. Householder
President and Chief Executive Officer
Read full letter
2019 Financial highlights
"We reported record earnings with operating income that exceeded $100 million for the first time in our history. Our compound annual growth in earnings has exceeded 8.5% for multiple trailing periods including the 10 years ended 2019. Our disciplined approach to strategic investments has led to top quartile performance in terms of total return on equity over the past five years. Beyond 2019, we expect this trend to continue. Our team's collaboration across the Company and relentless focus on identifying tandem projects and energy solutions; and developing organic growth in our service territories, combined with regulatory ingenuity and cost efficiencies, will continue to drive increased earnings. Growth is a priority with equal attention to safety, the well-being of our communities, environmental stewardship, and engagement of our employees."
Beth Cooper, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
|(dollars in thousands, except per share data)||2019||2018||2019/2018
|Gross Margin from Continuing Operations||$325,104||$300,146||8%||$277,457||8%|
|Operating Income from Continuing Operations||$106,287||$94,843||12%||$89,730||6%|
|Income from Continuing Operations||$61,142||$56,862||8%||$60,326||-6%(1)|
|Earnings Per Share from Continuing Operations|
|Annualized Dividends Per Share||$1.62||$1.48||9%||$1.30||14%|
|Shares Outstanding at Year End||16,403,776||16,378,545||N/M/F(2)||16,344,442||N/M/F(2)|
|Average Distribution Customers||255,623||247,487||3%||240,323||3%|
12017 includes one-time Tax Cuts & Jobs Act benefit.
2Not a meaningful figure.
Our investors have earned 15% annually or greater on their Chesapeake Utilities' investment.
Our Board of Directors declared a dividend increase of 9.5%.
In the past 10 years, we have doubled the size of our market capitalization twice.
In 2019, we achieved a 12% Return on Equity.
2019 Earnings Per Share from continuing operations was a record $3.72, an increase of $.25 or 7.2% over 2018.
We invested $199 million in new Capital Expenditures in 2019.
Through our operating divisions and subsidiaries, we are a diversified energy delivery company engaged in distribution of natural gas, propane gas and electricity; the transmission of natural gas; the generation of electricity and steam; mobile CNG solutions; and other businesses.
We are rooted in a tradition of teamwork and leadership driven by an entrepreneurial spirit that guides us every day. Our employees, who collaborate across the Company, are diligent in providing innovative and safe energy solutions to serve our customers and to support our communities, while positioning us for continuous long-term growth.
total assets at December 31, 2019
years operating as an energy delivery company
years of superior earnings growth
American Gas Association Safety Achievement Awards earned over the past 17 years
invested, since 2012, in Gas Reliability and Infrastructure Project in Florida, improving our gas distribution systems
safety training and outreach events conducted in the last three years with first responders, firefighters, students and local businesses
Owns and operates a 500-mile interstate pipeline that transports natural gas from four pipeline interconnection points in Pennsylvania to customers in Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania. ESNG transports over 50 billion cubic feet (BCF) of natural gas annually to local distribution companies, electric power generators and industrial customers throughout the region. In 2019, ESNG completed the construction of the largest system expansion project in the Company's history increasing its capacity by 26%.
500 miles of pipeline
50 BCF of natural gas transported a year
Owns and operates several intrastate natural gas pipelines throughout seven counties in Florida. PPC provides transportation service that links interstate pipelines to local distribution systems, industrial customers and power generation facilities. PPC completed recent expansions in Northwest Florida and West Palm Beach, FL.
106 miles of pipeline
7 counties served throughout Florida
Owns and operates natural gas gathering infrastructure throughout 40 counties in Ohio. Provides natural gas supplies to several local distribution companies and cooperatives. Primarily sources gas from approximately 300 conventional producers and provides additional services to maintain quality and reliability to wholesale markets.
2,700 miles of pipeline
40 counties served throughout Ohio
300 sourced conventional producers
In 2019, we integrated the Delaware, Florida, Maryland and Ohio transmission operations to promote greater collaboration and process standardization among similar functional units.
Owns and operates approximately 1,400 miles of gas distribution mains in Delaware and Maryland. Chesapeake Utilities distributes natural gas through its Delaware and Maryland divisions to approximately 70,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers.
In December 2019, we entered into an agreement with South Jersey Industries to acquire Elkton Gas. Elkton Gas serves approximately 7,000 natural gas customers within a franchised area in Cecil County, MD.
1,400 miles of gas distribution mains
Serves approximately 11,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers in Worcester County, MD. Originally comprised of propane distribution systems acquired in 2013, Sandpiper Energy is progressing with more than 9,300 accounts converted from propane gas to natural gas. Sandpiper Energy currently owns and operates over 300 miles of gas distribution mains.
300 miles of gas distribution mains
Owns and operates approximately 2,900 miles of natural gas distribution mains across 21 counties in Florida. FPU and our Florida division of Chesapeake Utilities Corporation distribute natural gas to approximately 83,000 customers.
FPU also owns and operates electric utility assets across four counties in Florida and distributes electricity to approximately 32,000 customers.
2,900 miles of gas distribution mains
115,000 natural gas and electric customers
Distribute propane to customers in Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and southeastern Pennsylvania (Sharp Energy); and Florida (Flo-Gas). In 2019, we integrated our propane operations in Delaware, Florida, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia to promote greater collaboration and process standardization among similar functional units. Collectively, Sharp Energy and Flo-Gas distribute propane gas to approximately 60,000 customers. Sharp AutoGas fuels over 1,500 vehicles and is available at 48 propane fueling stations in Delaware, Florida, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
1,500 vehicles fueled via AutoGas
Provides electricity and steam generation services through a combined heat and power (CHP) plant on Amelia Island, FL, serving approximately 50% of Amelia Island's demand for electricity. The CHP plant produces electricity, steam and water with less air pollutants and water usage, meeting an 80% efficiency target and cutting overall energy consumption in half.
21 megawatts of baseload power
Maintains one of the largest fleets of compressed natural gas (CNG) steel tube trailers consisting of various sizes to provide solutions for all of its customers' various applications nationwide. Marlin offers interim and long-term natural gas solutions when pipeline supplies are not available, traditional methods cannot meet customer requirements and during pipeline outages. Marlin continues to actively expand the territories it serves, as well as to leverage its personnel and technology to serve liquefied natural gas (LNG) uses and to provide transportation services for renewable natural gas (RNG) from supply sources to various pipeline interconnection points.
miles of gas pipeline and distribution mains
counties served throughout our business areas
corporate governance & esg
"This award recognizes the depth of strong governance practices throughout our organization and acknowledges our special culture of discipline, integrity, accountability, authenticity and diversity. As our long-standing ESG story continues to unfold, we are honored to be recognized among our peers in the corporate governance industry."
James Moriarty, Executive Vice President,
General Counsel, Corporate Secretary
and Chief Policy and Risk Officer
Chesapeake Utilities is strongly committed to sound corporate governance principles and the highest standards of ethical conduct. These values are aligned with our culture and are the foundation for our position on Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) considerations.
ESG is embedded in our Company's DNA and is essential in determining our strategic priorities, beginning with guidance and clarity from our Board of Directors to structure and support provided by leadership, and extending to the practices of our employees.
Chesapeake Utilities is a responsible company that cultivates a diverse and high-performance workforce, encouraging employees to be authentic leaders and to contribute in meaningful ways.
consecutive years recognized as a Top Workplace
years for average employee tenure
of active full-time employees are veterans
We partner with national and local organizations, offering all of our employees the opportunities to engage in volunteer events. Through our outreach, we build lasting relationships with community members and officials to further the betterment of the environment, education, well-being, and economic and social enrichment of our communities.
employees volunteered in 2019
hours volunteered by employees in 2019
donated to national and local organizations in 2019
in grant money distributed over the last 15 years
As part of our strategic approach, our businesses strive to identify solutions for more efficient energy use, generate savings for our customers and reduce carbon emissions within our business operations and the communities we serve.
less greenhouse gas emissions
less nitrogen oxide
Up to 60%
less carbon monoxide, less particulate emissions
million gallons of gasoline and diesel fuel displaced since 2013
less greenhouse gas emissions
Up to 85%
less nitrogen oxide
Up to 40%
less carbon dioxide, less particulate emissions
MARLIN GAS SERVICES
years operating without a single safety incident. Marlin Gas Services is a supplier of mobile CNG and pipeline solutions, and maintains a fleet of steel tube CNG trailers, composite CNG trailers, mobile compression equipment and an internally developed patented regulator system which allows for delivery of over 7,000 Dts/d of natural gas.
efficiency target met at Eight Flags Energy CHP Plant-designed to produce electricity, steam and water with less air pollutants and water usage
reduced emissions including greenhouse gases and reduction in fresh water demand
megawatts of baseload power producing enough electricity to meet on average 50% of customer demand on Amelia Island in Florida
kW-dc total installed capacity at three individual sites across three business units
MMbtu of energy conservation
metric tons of CO2 reduction
kWh of expected annual production
1Chesapeake Utilities installed solar arrays in three of its business locations to reduce its carbon footprint and to minimize the commercial electric utility costs to operate its facilities at Sharp Energy in Georgetown, DE; ESNG's compressor station in Bridgeville, DE; and Aspire Energy in Orrville, OH.