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Energy network operator National Grid has reported its annual pre-tax profits have jumped 16 per cent to £3.1bn.
The company, which maintains and invests in infrastructure rather than distributing energy, said statutory pre-tax profits were up even higher, rising 107 per cent in the year to the end of March.
However, it said much of the increase stemmed from National Grid’s £7.8bn purchase of Western Power Distribution (WPD). Earlier this month, WPD was fined £15m after its support for vulnerable customers during power cuts was deemed “totally unacceptable”.
The energy industry is facing intense scrutiny as a surge in gas and electricity bills puts houshold finances under increasing pressure.
The government is being urged to announce a windfall tax on North Sea oil and gas producers who have seen rising profits as energy prices increased.
Announcing its results on Thursday, National Grid claimed it would become the biggest investor in the transition to a green economy on the FTSE share index.
John Pettigrew, National Grid’s chief executive, said the firm wanted to balance this with keeping bills down for customers.
It comes during a time of transition for the business, which has agreed to sell one of its units to the government to set up a new authority which will oversee the grid system.
The business will be investing £24bn into green projects to decarbonise energy networks in the UK and elsewhere over the next five years.
It is part of an investment plan worth up to £35bn.
“It’s a record level of investment for National Grid, I think it makes us the largest investor in the energy transition in the FTSE.
“It just gives you a sense of the scale of investment we’re going to be doing over the next few years.
“Of course we are going to try to do that as efficiently as possible to keep bills down for customers.”
In the Queen’s Speech last week, ministers included plans for a new authority that will operate the electricity system.
As a result, the government will buy National Grid’s Electricity System Operator arm from the company.
“We’re really pleased actually,” Mr Pettigrew said.
“From our perspective it’s a relatively small part of National Grid, but nonetheless it will have an important role in the energy transition.”
He said that the deal is planned to be completed by 2024. The sales process is starting at the moment, but things will move fairly slowly until MPs pass new laws.