National Grid’s chief executive struck a positive note today (17 May) as the networks operator revealed underlying pre-tax profits up 4 per cent to £2.68 billion.

Pointing towards a solid year of “significant progress and investment”, John Pettigrew said it had delivered “strong operational and financial performance” across its UK and US businesses in 2017/18.

Headline profitability was hit, however – down by 8 per cent to £3.45 billion – due as expected to the £142 million restoration costs following a challenging winter and major storm damage in the US.

Underlying earnings per share were up by 3 per cent per share to 60.4p, with the networks company recommending a final dividend of 30.44p per share – which would mean a full-year dividend of 45.93p, an increase of 3.75 per cent.

Looking ahead, National Grid expects growth of at least up to 7 per cent in the near term, delivered through “continued capital discipline and improved efficiency across the group”.

Pettigrew added: “Our networks achieved high levels of reliability and safety and we increased customer-driven investment to £4.3 billion.

“In the UK, we continued to deliver incentive outperformance generating significant cost savings for customers.

“Consistent with our strategy, we continued the repositioning of our portfolio towards stronger growth with the recent agreement for the potential sale of our remaining interest in Cadent.”

Ofgem launched its framework consultation for RIIO2 in March, a key step in the process leading to a new price control in April 2021.

The networks operator said its key focus over the next three years is to ensure that the final package provides “an appropriate balance between risk and reward, drives innovation and efficiency through incentivisation, ensures financeability of our networks and benefits all parties through improved affordability”.

Ofgem’s decision is expected in summer, with the publication in autumn of the methodology for the sector-specific price controls.

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