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South Jersey Industries Inc (SJI) Q4 2020 Earnings Call Transcript

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SJI earnings call for the period ending December 31, 2020.

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South Jersey Industries Inc (SJI 0.90%)
Q4 2020 Earnings Call
Feb 25, 2021, 11:00 a.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by. And welcome to the Fourth Quarter 2020 South Jersey Industries' Earnings Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] After the speakers' presentation, there will be a question-and-answer session. [Operator Instructions]

Please be advised that today's conference is being recorded. [Operator Instructions]

I would like to hand the conference over to Dan Fidell, Vice President, Investor Relations. Please go ahead.

Dan Fidell -- Vice President of Investor Relations

Thank you. Good morning, everyone, and welcome to SJI's fourth quarter 2020 earnings conference call and webcast. I'm joined today by Mike Renna, our President and Chief Executive Officer; Steve Cocchi, our Chief Financial Officer as well as additional members of our senior management team.

Our earnings release and the presentation slides of the company in the call were issued yesterday after the close of the market and are also available on our website at www.sjindustries.com. The release and the associated 10-K provide an in-depth review of earnings on both the GAAP and non-GAAP basis using our non-GAAP measure of economic earnings. Reconciliations of economic earnings to the comparable GAAP measures appear in both documents.

Throughout today's call, we'll be making references to future expectations, plans and opportunities for SJI. Actual results could differ materially from those projected in any forward-looking statements. For a discussion of factors that could cause actual results to differ, please refer to our SEC filings.

With that said, I'm pleased to introduce our CEO, Mike Renna, who will review our 2020 operational performance and strategic priorities as we begin 2021. Our CFO, Steve Cocchi will then review our 2020 financial performance. Mike will then offer some closing remarks. After that, we'll be happy to take your questions.

With that introduction, let me now turn it over to Mike.

Michael J. Renna -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Dan and good morning everyone. Thank you for joining us today and as always, I hope you and your families are staying safe and well. I am pleased to report a $60 million increase in economic earnings and a 50% year-over-year improvement in economic earnings per share.

2020 saw us meet or exceed all key strategic and operational metrics despite unprecedented challenges, and we delivered on our mission providing safe, reliable and affordable natural gas to more than 700,000 customers across New Jersey. We were there at a time when our customers and communities needed us the most.

2020 also saw us deliver on key strategic priorities driving our long-term growth. We reached a favorable resolution of South Jersey Gas Company's base rate case, a reflection of our prudent investment and strong regulatory relationships, achieved our targeted clean energy investment goals, demonstrating alignment and commitment to state and regional decarbonization efforts, proactively strengthened our balance sheet, ensuring we have sufficient liquidity to address the unknowns of COVID and funding of our capital plans and proposed important regulatory initiatives in support of safety, reliability, energy efficiency, decarbonization, and job creation.

Consistent with our goals, our utilities South Jersey Gas and Elizabethtown Gas represent the majority of our earnings in 2020. Margins increased significantly reflecting above-average customer growth, positive base rate case outcomes, critical infrastructure modernization programs and trackers, and effective O&M management.

Natural gas remains in strong demand across our territories and across New Jersey with more than 12,000 new customers adding service in the last 12 months alone. While we are seeing increased new construction across the state, the bulk of our customer growth continues to come from conversions with roughly two-thirds converting from alternative fuels such as heating oil and propane to cleaner burning and lower cost natural gas.

Regulatory relationships remain constructive and strong, resulting in amicable settlements in record time with desired results at both our utilities. Infrastructure modernization programs critical to assuring safe and reliable service to our customers have the added benefit of significantly reducing methane emissions. Over the last 12 months, we've invested more than $135 million to replace aging cast iron and bare steel main across our system, and on October 1, 2020, we adjusted rates at both our utilities to begin recovering these important investments.

Our non-utility operations also experienced significant improvement in 2020, due primarily to new clean energy investments and a right-sizing and repositioning of our legacy businesses. Specifically, our wholesale businesses delivered solid year-over-year improvement driven by strong performance in our fuel management activities, the roll off of legacy contracts, reshape portfolio and asset optimization opportunities.

Our energy services business delivered on our commitment to align and advance the clean energy goals of our state and region. Our fuel cell investments are expected to produce 7.5 megawatts of low carbon electric generation in Staten Island and along with four small-scale solar investments delivered $0.21 per share of investment tax credits in 2020.

As we begin 2021, our priorities are focused on executing on our commitment to clean energy and decarbonization and achieving resolution in our pending regulatory initiatives. With regard to decarbonization, as you saw from our earnings release, we are excited to announce our equity investment in REV LNG, a company specializing in the development, production and transportation of renewable natural gas, liquefied natural gas, and compressed natural gas, along with the development rights to a portfolio anaerobic digester projects to produce RNG.

Over the last few years, REV has become one of the country's leading developers of dairy RNG projects through capturing, cleaning, and converting biomethane to RNG. RNG recovered from dairy farms has a negative carbon intensity rating, meaning it takes more carbon out of the environment than it produces, and is less carbon intensive than conventional natural gas. These investments along with our planned investments in RNG that will directly serve our utilities will accelerate SJI's path toward decarbonization. This strategic investment is adjacent to our core utility business, it supports our commitment to decarbonization and to delivering the clean energy in the future.

It positions SJI at the front of an emerging energy market with significant growth and upside and with unlevered returns of the team's strong growth in the core transportation vertical and the potential afforded through dairy farm development, this investment will be accretive to earnings and credit metric positive.

As you know, we currently have several important proposals pending before the BPU with resolution expected before the end of the second quarter. We have requested $267 million in energy efficiency investments at our utilities over the next three years as well as the decoupling mechanism for Elizabethtown Gas, similar to the one we have in place in South Jersey Gas. We have also requested $742 million in Phase 3 infrastructure modernization investment at South Jersey Gas, targeting coated steel and vintage Aldyl A plastic pipe, both program support the Murphy Administration's goals surrounding safety and reliability, energy efficiency, decarbonization, and job creation.

At this time, I'll now turn it over to Steve to review our 2020 financial performance. After which I look forward to offering some closing remarks. Steve?

Steven R. Cocchi -- Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Thanks, Mike. Good morning, everyone. As Mike noted, despite the continuing pandemic our business performed very well in 2020 and we expect no material financial impact from the pandemic. As Dan noted earlier, both the earnings release and the slide deck we've made available will provide you with detailed information regarding GAAP earnings, and I would encourage you to review that information.

For the purposes of this call, as we normally do, we'll focus our discussion on our non-GAAP measure of economic earnings as management believes that this measure provides valuable insight into the performance of our business. For 2020, economic earnings were $1.68 per diluted share compared with $1.12 per diluted share for the comparable period a year ago.

2020 results exceeded our previously communicated expectations for economic earnings to be at the upper end of $1.50 to $1.60 per diluted share, driven by a combination of improved utility and non-utility performance as well as several positive, but non-recurring items that totaled $0.13 per share. These items included certain tax adjustments, SJI rate design adjustments and pipeline supplier refunds.

Our utilities contributed 2020 earnings of $1.62 per diluted share compared to $1.33 per diluted share in 2019. Improved results primarily reflect rate relief at both South Jersey Gas and Elizabethtown Gas, positive customer growth, and base rate roll-ins related to infrastructure modernization programs.

Our non-utility operations contributed 2020 earnings of $0.47 per share compared to $0.15 per share in 2019. Improved results were driven by increased profitability at both energy group and energy services. Energy group contributed 2020 earnings of $0.24 per diluted share compared to $0.10 per diluted share in 2019, primarily reflecting fuel management contracts that became operational over the last 12 months, higher volumes and improved asset optimization opportunities resulting from efforts to reshape our portfolio over the past year.

Energy services contributed 2020 earnings of $0.19 per share compared to break-even results in 2019, primarily reflecting the recognition of investment tax credits related to fuel cell and solar acquisitions that have commenced operations during the year. Our other segment contributed a loss in economic earnings of $0.42 per share, compared to a loss of $0.36 per share in 2019, reflecting an increase in outstanding debt, partially offset by debt repayments and refinancing activity.

For our fourth quarter 2020, economic earnings were $0.62 per diluted share compared with $0.47 per diluted share for the comparable period a year ago, reflecting improved utility and non-utility profitability, improved utility results largely reflect SJG base rate relief, which became effective on October 1, as well as strong customer growth and the roll-in of infrastructure modernization programs at both SJG and ETG.

Improved non-utility results largely reflect the recognition of investment tax credits related to our fuel cell and solar acquisitions that commenced operations during the year as well as improved asset optimization at our wholesale business. Our capital expenditures in 2020 were approximately $600 million with approximately 80% of this amount reflecting in investments for utility infrastructure upgrades, system maintenance, and customer growth and approximately 20% reflecting clean energy investments.

As Mike discussed, we're pleased to announce our investment in REV LNG today and we expect this important decarbonization focused investment to be accretive to our cash flow and economic earnings and support continued long-term improvement in our credit metrics. A factsheet regarding our investment in REV is available on the investor relations section of our website at www.sjindustries.com.

Turning now to our balance sheet. We remain committed to a capital structure that supports our regulated driven capital spending plan, while maintaining a balanced equity to total capitalization, ample liquidity and a solid investment grade credit rating. GAAP equity to total capitalization improved to 32.2% at December 31, 2020, compared with 29.6% at December 31, 2019, reflecting debt and equity financing and repayment of debt using proceeds from asset sales.

Our non-GAAP equity to total cap, which adjusts for mandatory convertible units and other long-term duration debt improved to 39.7% at December 31, 2020, compared with 37.5% at December 31, 2019. Earlier this month, Moody's affirmed South Jersey Gas is A3 rating and raised its outlook to stable from negative citing among many factors SJG positive rate case resolution in 2020 and steady improvement in financial metrics.

We completed multiple steps in 2020 to strengthen liquidity, eliminate near-term debt maturities, and ensure the ongoing funding of our capital program with approximately $450 million of available borrowing capacity as of December 31, 2020, we remain confident in our ability to manage through the impacts of COVID.

With regard to guidance. SJI's recent investment in REV as well as several pending regulatory proposals for expanded accelerated infrastructure modernization and energy efficiency programs are expected to positively impact our financial metrics and advance our decarbonization goals. We're currently incorporating these investments and initiatives into our plans and look forward to sharing our vision for the future with you in conjunction with the planned Virtual Investor Day in May. Details regarding participation in the meeting are expected to be provided in April.

That concludes my remarks and I'll now turn it back over to Mike.

Michael J. Renna -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Steve. The successful execution of our priorities, combined with a fifth consecutive quarter of solid improvement in our financial results shows that our business transformation efforts over the past few years is paying off. At the same time, our strategic investments in clean energy demonstrate continued alignment with the goals of our state and region are highly complementary to our core gas utility business and has set the table for new and growing stream of positive cash flows for SJI.

As we conclude, let me remind you that above all else, SJI remains committed to the safety of our employees, our families and our communities. We continue to function very effectively from a largely remote platform and we'll continue to make decisions informed by directives from our leaders and health experts. We along with all of you are optimistic for a successful vaccine rollout in the months ahead and a return to a more normal functioning of life and work.

In this regard, we remain a proud New Jersey company and a partner with our state and we stand ready to support our state's vital economic recovery efforts with shovel ready jobs to get folks back to work. Let me conclude my remarks by saying how proud I am to be a part of the SJI family. From how we came together in the phase of the pandemic, to how folks have embraced the future, the future where our infrastructure will deliver the Clean Energy critical to combating climate change.

Operator, that concludes our prepared remarks and we are now ready to open the line for questions.

Questions and Answers:

Operator

[Operator Instructions] Our first question comes from Richard Sunderland with JP Morgan. Your line is open.

Richard Sunderland -- JP Morgan -- Analyst

Hi, thanks for taking my questions today. Just wanted to start on sort of the 2021 outlook, consideration of, I guess forthcoming guidance here. Could you speak to some of the moving pieces year-over-year. I guess those pending regulatory proceedings and the REV LNG investment in any way to frame the order of that magnitude kind of contribution from those items, just to get a sense of the growth in the '21 year.

Michael J. Renna -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Hey, Rich. I'm sorry, it's Mike. I think as we said in our release and in our prepared remarks, there are several moving pieces, which we would expect to have greater resolution on as we work our way through the first quarter and the early part of the second quarter. And we wanted to make sure that when we had our Investor Day and put out guidance, which would be for not only 2021, but certainly we would give an indication of what we expect our growth to be over three to five-year planning horizon.

We wanted to wait for resolution of or at least strong indications around some of those moving pieces. So you mentioned, certainly we have some pretty significant proceedings in front of our regulators right now. We have our infrastructure replacement program, accelerated infrastructure replacement program at South Jersey Gas focused on kind of the next generation of vintage pipe, which would be coated steel and Aldyl A plastic, very large and ambitious program.

But again at the end of that we'll have one of the most modern, if not the most modern systems in our region, so something that's really critical to advancing the state's safety reliability and also environmental goals. We've got a energy efficiency proposal in front of them. Again, we would expect to have better insight into those and then be able to provide investors with a better sense of how they will impact both our earnings and our credit metrics going forward.

And then as far as REV goes, there is a lot there, and we felt it's better to kind of take the time to walk investors through just what a unique and exciting opportunity this is for us. And again how we envision the kind of the build out of that opportunity, both in its existing business, which is largely a services business centered around gas assets. So RNG development, LNG and CNG, but more specifically around what we think is a critical strategic imperative for SJI, which is decarbonization, kind of the focus and the cadence of development of dairy farms.

So I don't know that I directly answered your question, but I'm trying to give you as much as I can without basically doing the Investor Day on this call.

Richard Sunderland -- JP Morgan -- Analyst

Got it. Thanks, Mike. Appreciate the color. And maybe one more on this front of it, risk of front running the Investor Day. Just I'm curious if you could kind of frame the 2020 Clean Energy and decarbonization investments from a capex or dollars invested perspective versus your ultimate aspirations in terms of growth there. And then just as well as any kind of ITC targets, you're looking at for '21.

Michael J. Renna -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Great question. And I want to just take a second and kind of go back to our decision to reenter the clean energy development space, which we announced about a year ago at this time, right. So we had said that, look we, given where sentiment was going particularly in New Jersey, but really the region, and now I think it's a nationwide thing toward decarbonization and clean energy.

We felt that extremely prudent for SJI to participate and to demonstrate our commitment to the decarbonization and clean energy and our alignment with the state and Governor Murphy's energy master plan and we are committed to playing a key role in that. So, we put out a number of, I think it was roughly $150 million was kind of our target investment over a three-year period and we were relatively agnostic in terms of what type of clean energy investment that would be, we wanted to provide strong unlevered returns.

We wanted to certainly demonstrate again alignment and commitment to the goals of the state and the region. But clearly in the beginning we thought we would most likely involve solar and it did ultimately, but there were four rather small projects and we're certainly going to do everything we can to green our own facilities and our own buildings. And as we said earlier to, we think it's a kind of a great solution to as a replacement at our now shuttered landfill to electric projects.

But the fuel cell became a great opportunity for us in 2020. It's clean, low carbon electricity, it uses natural gas as its fuel source. So we were really excited about that, thought it was a great fit, would certainly be open to doing additional fuel cell projects in the future but again, one of the things we really liked about the one that we did, was that it was part of New York's VDER program, which effectively fixes 75% to 80% of the revenues. So we've seen -- not only is it a great investment from a clean energy perspective, but it's highly derisk.

So again, I think that we will always be open to those types of investments. The investment in REV is very different, there is no ITC at this point in time for RNG projects, but it does accomplish something that is really critical for us and I think for the future of our industry and that is, it helps to decarbonize the energy flowing through our infrastructure and that from the very get go, has been our primary goal and we are just really excited about the opportunity to partner with REV and as we said, be at the forefront of kind of the clean energy decarbonization movement.

As far as ITC and investments go, I think we've not changed our plan that kind of $150 million, $175 million over a three-year period is still our plan. Those would be where you would see ITC type of investments and our investments in REV will be done with the same critical lens we do every other investment, which is unlevered returns, credit positive, and again in a highly derisked kind of structure.

Richard Sunderland -- JP Morgan -- Analyst

Great, thanks. I appreciate the color there.

Dan Fidell -- Vice President of Investor Relations

Thanks, Rich.

Operator

Our next question comes from Gabe Moreen with Mizuho. Your line is open.

Gabe Moreen -- Mizuho -- Analyst

Hey, good morning everyone. Maybe I can just start with wholesale a little bit here. Clearly had a great fourth quarter, I was going to ask twofold on this, one is just given all the events over the last couple of weeks and the volatility if you can speak to how that portfolio has been performing in the first quarter? Or what the impacts have been directionally?

And then second of all, one of your peers, I guess entered into a long-term contract for some of the capacity that they have with their marketing business. I was wondering if that's something that you are potentially contemplating as well.

Michael J. Renna -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Sure. I'll take this again, it's Mike, Gabe. So, how is our portfolio performing in the first quarter. Yeah, I mean certainly there have been some rather unusual and historic weather events in the last few weeks, particularly kind of in the mid-continent. It has not necessarily expected the Northeast to the extend it did again through the plains.

We did see some volatility, I think we had prices in the market area in the $7 or $8 range. So some nice spreads, but Gabe, if you remember several years ago, we reshaped our portfolio and really tried to kind of minimize the volatility in the portfolio. So it wasn't necessarily a different strategy for us in terms of -- because we were always pretty much fully heading into any winter, we believe a little bit open, but that was just to meet demand and volumes -- swings in volumes.

But just given some of the pipeline restrictions that happened over the years and some of the changes that they had in the way that you could, you could use secondary or park alone your gas and some of the other things that led to some real opportunities to optimize your assets in the past and we're really no longer there. The Head of that business, Jason Foulds did a great job of reshaping our portfolio and again I think minimizing any type of downside, but in doing that the trade-off is you also minimize some of the upside.

So, we like where we are right now, because I think it's far more predictable than it was maybe a few years ago. I expect us to have a good first quarter and I expect us to be right around where we projected.

As far as -- OK, remind me your second question, I'm sorry.

Gabe Moreen -- Mizuho -- Analyst

Just in terms of one of your peers basically taking some of the capacity in that business.

Michael J. Renna -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. it's a couple of things, right. I understand what they were looking to accomplish and I give them credit for going out and getting it done. But I think lot of it depends on what kind of where your assets are located and what type of value a potential acquirer would place on them. I think our portfolio right now with where it is, as I mentioned, we've taken a lot of the volatility out of it through our own internal actions.

And so I expect it to be a very steady and solid contributor to SJI, so I think and again I don't want to speak for Steve or NJR or anything like that, but I guess is that -- this was a way for them to kind of accomplish the same thing, which was take a lot of the volatility out of the earnings through this ANI.

Gabe Moreen -- Mizuho -- Analyst

Thanks, Mike. And then maybe if I could follow with a twofold question on the utility, one is just kind of the latest on any COVID regulatory assets you've got and what the latest is on potential recovery there and then also I think in the release and presentation you mentioned alternatives to the LNG project and we can save it for the Analyst Day, but just kind of curious what those alternatives would be in capex size wise, how this might compare?

Michael J. Renna -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Sure, Gabe. I'm going to ask Dave Robbins, President of our Utilities to take this one.

Dave Robbins -- Senior Vice President

Sure. Good morning, Gabe. So as far as COVID, I think we in our release we talked about the amount of assets that have been deferred under approved program by the BPU. The way that that's going to work is that 60 days after the Governor lifts his executive order, there will be discussions on the filing and the recovery of those costs.

So we in accordance with that, we have deferred these costs as a regulatory asset. The bulk of the number that you see is incremental bad debt, which we certainly as along with all the other utilities have incurred, but we placed it on the balance sheet as a deferred asset and again we will work with the BPU along with the other utilities, once the executive quarter is lifted, because right now it's kind of premature to think about the time period of that recovery.

I don't think that's been addressed yet as there are other priorities to deal with right now. So again, we expect to get full recovery, the mechanism and length of that is still kind of TBD. And then I think your other question, Gabe was the status of our LNG project that we discussed and as you all know, we filed for that, a little over 14 months ago. It certainly would slow in moving through the approval process, the discovery process. We are encouraged there has been some recent movement and I will say anecdotally, the need for redundancy and I think we talked earlier about the severe weather impacts on the Southern Plains.

I think what that's done is kind of sensitized us to the importance of building redundancy into our system and as we shared that this is a key redundancy project. So just a little bit on where we are, the discovery is complete on our filing by BPU staff. Last week, we completed the public hearing and we are awaiting some comments from rate council. But I expect that we'll have a resolution on this in the upcoming months. I don't have a definitive date, but there has been some progress recently on our filing and we think this is a real critical project for us going back to the critical need for redundancy.

Gabe Moreen -- Mizuho -- Analyst

Understood. Thank you very much.

Dave Robbins -- Senior Vice President

Sure.

Operator

[Operator Instructions] Our next question comes from Chris Ellinghaus with Sievert Williams. Your line is open.

Chris Ellinghaus -- Sievert Williams -- Analyst

Hey guys, how are you?

Michael J. Renna -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Hi, Chris.

Chris Ellinghaus -- Sievert Williams -- Analyst

Mike, not to front run your meeting, but the REV, they currently are earnings positive. So you're accretive before making additional investments, is that fair?

Michael J. Renna -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Yes. Yeah, their core business that we acquired in equity interest is -- will be accretive, our percentage will be accretive there. Yeah.

Chris Ellinghaus -- Sievert Williams -- Analyst

Okay. Would it be fair to say that the digesters are of material scale capital wise?

Michael J. Renna -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Chris, it's interesting. On an individual basis, they are in the $10 million to $15 million range. So a lot of it's just going to depend on ultimately our kind of development horizon, but there are certainly economies and efficiencies that are gained by where they're geographically located. So, you tend to think of them as pods, so you may do four or five in a specific geographic region and then all of that RNG is then compressed and transported and connected to a specific LDC or interstate pipeline.

So we're working through right now with our partners at REV development schedule in a timeframe and looking at different off-take type of agreements. What I can say, Chris is that we've always hung our hat on our investments, investments being particularly in the last few years being of high quality and utility like, and that's how we are approaching the development of the dairy farms and the digesters, and I think it's probably a really good way of thinking about it going forward. We'll certainly look to derisk as much as possible.

Chris Ellinghaus -- Sievert Williams -- Analyst

Okay. And they do like transport services for third-parties and stuff as well.

Michael J. Renna -- President and Chief Executive Officer

They do, they actually -- they designed and developed LNG bunkering for the maritime industry. They provide LNG and so you know kind of virtual pipeline services for utilities, they do a lot of compressed natural gas as well, again, helping utilities meet their peak day supplies and then they are now -- they are kind of the fastest growing segment is the RNG vertical. They currently actually have development agreements with two other utilities where they're developing, or we, I guess I should say, we are developing anaerobic digesters at dairy farms for again two large utilities under a fee-based structure that includes a long-term contracted -- trucking contract as well. So, it's a really exciting opportunity for us.

Chris Ellinghaus -- Sievert Williams -- Analyst

Yeah, it sounds interesting. Is this going to be your primary sort of clean decarbonization natural gas investment or do you have some aspirations for things like hydrogen investments as well?

Michael J. Renna -- President and Chief Executive Officer

That's a great question. I'm sure you saw our announcement of the partnership with Atlantic Shores to do a pilot hydrogen project there in New Jersey. So I think Chris, I think our place in the future -- in energy future is decarbonization. It felt for a long time like electrification was kind of the only pathway forward and I think now when you look at our infrastructure and the hardened nature of our infrastructure and you just see what's happening when you have these periods of extreme cold, you need our infrastructure, you need our energy to be able to get through those periods of time.

And I think it's incumbent on us, utilities to find ways to decarbonize and that's where our focus is. So I think what you'll see is investment through our -- through REV and I think you'll see a lot of investment over the years in our utilities in bringing RNG behind our city gates. So, it really will be on a parallel path.

Chris Ellinghaus -- Sievert Williams -- Analyst

Okay, one last thing. In addition to the storage docket, have you seen any momentum in terms of jobs initiatives for this year?

Michael J. Renna -- President and Chief Executive Officer

You know what, I'll ask either Steve or Dave to grab this one. Either one.

Dave Robbins -- Senior Vice President

Good morning, Chris. Certainly, I think the front office initially in conjunction with the BPU started to talk about a stimulus program to create jobs to help get the economy back on track. I think those discussions have really been sidetracked as they dealt with COVID directly. So, we submitted along with the other utilities a list of projects where we could accelerate some investments really in the name of first and foremost for job creation.

We have not really heard back on that, all the information, the data was provided. So I think that's kind of sitting there and could very well be addressed in the near future. But I think that's one of the reasons why you saw the SJG filling was upsized, certainly we look to continue to make those kind of investments, they've been supported by our regulators. But the main driver I think this time for the upsize is job creation. So while it was under a formal stimulus program, that's the big driver on why we upsized that filing.

Chris Ellinghaus -- Sievert Williams -- Analyst

Okay, great, thanks a lot. I appreciate the color.

Operator

There are no further questions. I'd like to turn the call back over to Dan Fidell, Vice President of Investor Relations for closing remarks.

Dan Fidell -- Vice President of Investor Relations

Okay, thank you Michelle. I want to thank everyone for joining us today. As a reminder, a recording of our call today will be available on our website. And as always, please feel free to contact me, Dan Fidell for any follow-up questions. Again, thanks for joining us today and for your continued interest and investment in SJI. This concludes our call. Thanks.

Operator

[Operator Closing Remarks]

Duration: 25 minutes

Call participants:

Dan Fidell -- Vice President of Investor Relations

Michael J. Renna -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Steven R. Cocchi -- Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Dave Robbins -- Senior Vice President

Richard Sunderland -- JP Morgan -- Analyst

Gabe Moreen -- Mizuho -- Analyst

Chris Ellinghaus -- Sievert Williams -- Analyst

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