Seattle-based Cascade Natural Gas Corp. has named Larry L. Pinnt, an outside director since 1995, as the new chairman of the board, effective Jan. 1. W. Brian Matsuyama, president and CEO, also had carried the chairman’s duties before the announcement.

As a non-management chairman, Pinnt will assure that the natural gas distribution company board’s oversight responsibilities are carried out, according to Matsuyama. Until his retirement in 1989, Pinnt was CFO for US West Communications Inc. He currently serves on the boards of Safeco Common Stock Trust, Safeco Resource Series Trust and Safeco Managed Bond Trust, all publicly held mutual funds.

“We are making this structural change in order to be consistent with the best thinking in corporate governance and to ensure that Cascade’s investors will always be represented by a strong, independent board,” said Matsuyama.

Cascade Natural filed its annual report Form 10-K for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30 with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Dec. 23. Net income for the year was $10.762 million, compared with net income of $17.236 million in 2001. Basic and diluted earnings per share for 2002 were 97 cents, a 38% decrease from $1.56 per share earnings the previous year. Operating margins for the year were off $4.53 million, with $2.738 million attributed to two “unusual” revenue transactions in 2001, said the company. The transactions involved off-system interstate pipeline capacity transactions, with another $2.8 million contract termination charge recorded in 2002. The termination charge related to canceled deals with Enron, which had to be redone with other companies this year.

Operating margins from residential and commercial customers were even with the previous year, said Cascade Natural, with increases in new residential and commercial customers contributing about $1.99 million of new margin. Temperatures, which were 5% warmer than in 2001, contributed to a “consumption decline,” the company said, “the effect of which substantially offset the improvement from new customer additions.”

Cascade Natural serves more than 200,000 residential, commercial, industrial and transportation customers in 91 communities in Washington and Oregon.

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