Virginia Electric & Power Co. customers paid almost $400 million more for electricity in the 12 months ended March 31, but Vepco stockholders earned 12 cents a share less in profits than in the same period a year ago.

Vepco Chairman T. Justin Moore Jr. blamed both results on the operating problems and regulatory hangups that have kept Vepco's nuclear power plants out of service for months at a time.

"The continued inability to operate our major nuclear units severely impacted our first quarter earnings," he said.

Despite the sharp increase in revenues, Vepco's net income climbed only about $4 million, to $202.5 million from $198.6 million.Because the company has sold more common stock in the past year to finance power plant construction, earnings per share decreased to $1.65 from $1.77.

Delmarva Power & Light Co. also reported lower profits for the quarter ended March 31.

Like Vepco, Delmarva showed sharply higher revenues because of higher fuel costs, taking in $450.3 million this year, compared with $382.7 a year ago.

Delmarva net dropped to $14.6 million for the three months from $15.9 million in the same period last year. Earnings per share declined by 19 percent to 51 cents from 63 cents.

The Virginia utility's revenues for the latest 12-month period increased to a record $1.87 billion from $1.48 billion a year earlier.