National Grid says power row hurts spending

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NATIONAL Grid has trimmed its investment plan for next year and warned that political wrangling over energy policy is stopping power companies from starting new projects.

The FTSE 100 firm, which distributes gas and electricity across England and Wales, expects to spend £3.5bn on upgrades next year, down from the £3.6bn to £3.9bn it had previously planned.

“We are investing strongly but our customers aren’t about to commit to a lot of new power stations at the moment,” UK boss Nick Winser told City A.M. “The Energy Bill will hopefully bring a bit more stability and the power stations will start to be built in the next few years.”

The Energy Bill will set floor prices for low-carbon power and try to encourage investment in new stations, but the law’s passage has been eclipsed by a political row about household bills and green levies.

National Grid expects new plants generating 2.5 gigawatts to be built by 2015 – compared to the 6GW that has gone offline in the last year alone.

Chief executive Steve Holliday told the BBC this morning that energy supplies were “tighter than last year” in Britain.

National Grid’s operating profits from UK electricity transmission rose 12 per cent to £613m in the six months to the end of September while gas transmission earnings fell 18 per cent to £133m, following changes to price controls imposed by regulator Ofgem in April.

Overall pre-tax profits fell seven per cent to £979m.

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