National Grid profits plunge after nuclear power plans abandoned

National Grid has reported a plunge in annual profits as it felt the impact of two abandoned nuclear projects and storms throughout the year.

The firm, which owns and operates the UK’s energy infrastructure, made the announcement amid calls from the Labour Party to bring it under public ownership.

Shares in the company slipped after pre-tax profits sank by 31% to £1.8 billion for the year to March 2019, as it was also impacted by labour disputes in the US.

Stripping out one-off costs, including the cost from major storms, the company saw underlying pre-tax profit decline 3% to £2.5 billion.

National Grid said it was forced to write off £137 million in costs relating to plans for new nuclear energy plants in Wales and Cumbria, which were scrapped last year.

The company, which has 60% of its business in the US, was faced with a turbulent year in America where it was hit by £93 million in costs due to a string of storms last year.

Chief executive John Pettigrew said: “We made good strategic progress across the Group last year, delivering £4.5 billion of investment driving strong asset growth of 7.2%, all while maintaining reliability and safety across all of our networks.

“Looking ahead, we will continue to contribute to the important regulatory agenda in the UK and the US, to create value for shareholders, and play a central role in driving decarbonisation.”

Labour revealed plans on Wednesday to bring the grid under national ownership at a price decided by Parliament, in a move which would create a National Energy Agency to replace the National Grid.

Regional Energy Agencies would replace the existing Distribution Network Operators, and hold a statutory responsibility for decarbonising electricity and heat.

National Grid said Labour’s plans would delay its efforts to move to green energy.

A spokeswoman said: “These proposals for state-ownership of the energy networks would only serve to delay the huge amount of progress and investment that is already helping to make this country a leader in the move to green energy.”

Shares were down by 2.1% at 824.6p.

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