By Denver Business Journal

Xcel Energy Inc. said Thursday its third-quarter profit rose 8 percent from a year earlier, with CEO Ben Fowke attributing the gain to summer heat across the utilityâ¿¿s eight-state territory.

Minneapolis-based Xcel (NYSE: XEL) â¿¿ Coloradoâ¿¿s dominant electric and gas utility â¿¿ posted net income for the three months ending Sept. 30 of $338.3 million, or 69 cents a share, up from $312.3 million, or 67 cents, in the same quarter of 2010.

Analysts on average had expected earnings of 65 cents a share, Thomson Reuters reported.

Sales revenue for the period totaled $2.83 billion, also up 8 percent from the year-ago quarter.

Fowke, in a statement, cited ⿿higher sales due to the hot summer.⿝

He predicted full-year 2011 earnings ⿿in the upper half⿝ of Xcel⿿s guidance range of $1.65 to $1.75 a share. Guidance for 2012 ranges from $1.75 to $1.85 a share.

Earnings from Xcelâ¿¿s Colorado unit, Public Service Company of Colorado, amounted to 29 cents a share, unchanged from a year earlier.

In Colorado, ⿿higher electric margins, driven by warmer weather in July and August 2011, were offset by higher operating and maintenance expenses, depreciation expense and property taxes,⿝ Xcel said in a statement.

> Click here for Xcelâ¿¿s statement of its third-quarter results.

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