07/23/2012 04:10 EDT | Updated 09/22/2012 05:12 EDT

New Brunswick power utility reports increase in profit but also more debt

FREDERICTON - New Brunswick's Crown utility company is reporting earnings of $173 million for 2011-12 — an increase of $106 million over the previous year.

NB Power released its audited financial statements today, recording its second profitable year in a row.

Ed Barrett, chairman of NB Power's board of directors, says the improved numbers can be attributed to lower fuel costs and efforts to trim operations and administration expenses.

But despite making debt repayments of $413 million, NB Power's debt increased by $83 million.

Energy Minister Craig Leonard says $363 million was spent on the refurbishment of the Point Lepreau nuclear power plant, while $133 million went to other capital projects.

Leonard says he remains confident the utility can meet fiscal targets, including a $1 billion debt reduction over 10 years.