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Pay for CEO of Piedmont Natural Gas jumped in 2011

Piedmont Natural Gas chief executive Thomas Skains' total pay rose 26 percent last year despite a 20 percent drop in profits, according to a proxy statement filed today.

Skains, who is also Piedmont's chairman and president, earned nearly $3.8 million in 2011, most of it in stock awards. He took in close to $3 million in salary, stock awards, incentives and other compensation in 2010.

Piedmont filed the proxy filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in advance of its March 8 shareholders meeting.

The Charlotte-based company previously reported net income of $113.6 million for the fiscal year that ended Oct. 30, compared with 2010 profits of $141.9 million. The 2010 results included the $57 million sale of half of Piedmont's 30 percent stake in SouthStar Energy Services.

Skains' 2011 base pay of $760,876 fell from the $802,139 he earned in 2010. Stock awards, based on Piedmont's financial performance over a three-year period, jumped to $2.1 million from $1.4 million. Piedmont's stock opened today at $33, up $4.37 from one year ago.

Piedmont serves about 1 million customers in the Carolinas and Tennessee.

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