Profits Rise at Northern Powergrid’s North East Firm

Power supply firm Northern Powergrid’s North East operation has boosted operating profits and handed shareholders a significant £300m interim dividend.

Business Live is reporting that the Newcastle-based firm, which operates the network that serves 1.6 million customers across the region, saw operating profits rise just 2.7% to £161.6m while an interim dividend of £31.4m was paid during the year, up from £27.7m in 2022. Meanwhile a whopping £300m interim dividend was handed to shareholders this March in a post year-end move, accounts show.

Newly published 2023 accounts for Northern Powergrid (Northeast) plc, the business operating 42,000 km of overhead cables stretching between north Northumberland, York and to the Pennines, show revenues slipped from £441.8m to £435.6m due to a fall in distribution use of system revenues.

The performance came as Northern Powergrid invested £190.2m through its network investment strategy – a rise on the previous year’s spending of £157.5m. Investment was targeted to boost resilience and performance across the system with the company describing “major projects” to reinforce its primary network as well as refurbish transformers, rebuild overhead lines, replace oil-filled cables, swap deteriorated poles, replace switchgear and install and commission new remote control points.

Bosses also reported on performance against key targets including, they said, bettering regulator Ofgem KPIs which measure the average number of supply minutes lost for every customer due to both planned and unplanned power cuts that last for three minutes or longer and the average number of supply interruptions per every 100 connected customers due to planned and unplanned power cuts that last for three minutes or longer. The firm said it averaged high voltage restoration in 61.1 minutes compared with 61.2 minutes in the previous year.

Improvements made to the high voltage network included the roll-out of an automatic power restoration system and at low voltage monitoring devices capable of detecting faults were installed. And on storm response and winter preparedness the firm pointed to improvements to its website, call centre capacity and ‘Major Incident Management Plan’.

On health and safety, the wider Northern Powergrid group failed to meet its target OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) rate of 0.09, instead recording a rate of 0.43. That performance included 11 recordable incidents, mostly said to be minor, against a target of two or fewer.

And in a wider review of its performance by Ofgem, Northern Powergrid (Northeast) plc ranked sixth out of six in an assessment of distribution network operators (DNOs). In response, the firm said it organised external assessment of its approach to engagement, its fuel poverty provision and support for vulnerable customers, with improvement plans put in place. During the year the major employee also added 68 new recruits, taking the workforce to 1,384 employees.

Alex Jones, finance director at Northern Powergrid, said: “Since 2005, Northern Powergrid has reinvested 95% of its profits, after tax, back into the business. This approach supported our £3bn eight-year investment plan which we delivered between 2015 and 2023 and it supports our five-year business plan which will see us invest a further £2.8bn, between now and 2028.

“This investment will ensure we are continuing to improve network resilience and reliability for our customers, and also lead the way in the North East, Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire to decarbonisation, helping to create a greener energy system for the communities we serve. We are absolutely committed to providing the best possible service to our customers, and this investment will help us to deliver that.”

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