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Piedmont Natural Gas narrows loss

Piedmont Natural Gas typically loses money in the warmer months, when customers use less natural gas.

But during the third quarter ending July 31, the Charlotte-based utility narrowed that loss through cost-cutting and customer growth, the company reported today.

Piedmont reported a $7.7 million loss, or negative 10 cents per share. That compares to a $9.1 million loss, or negative 12 cents per share, for the same quarter last year.

The company said cost-saving measures started in the past are paying off, such as discontinuing in-person counter payments and instead offering pay options at special utility payment kiosks at Bi-Lo stores and other retail locations. Customers also can pay online or by mail.

In-person counter transactions were more expensive, said David Trusty, spokesman for the natural gas company. The company also has cut down on wasted service calls by revamping its trucks to carry more needed equipment, he said.

Piedmont has about 1.1 million customers in the Carolinas and Tennessee.

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