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National Grid is on track for£3.4bn of investment in 2010

NATIONAL GRID, which owns Britain’s electricity and natural gas transmission networks, said yesterday the firm made a “very strong” performance in the first half of the year and it expects to raise its full-year dividend by eight per cent.

The business, which also owns a large power transmission network in New York and along the US eastern seaboard, said in a trading update it was in line with market forecasts to perform well this year.

In the UK, National Grid said it “experienced seven of the 20 coldest days in the last 15 years.”

It added that gas demand in the UK over the past month rose to record levels. And that “the system operated well, with a good response from the market to the four gas-balancing alerts we issued.”

In the US, the group expects an improved performance from its electricity distribution and generation businesses despite some decline in customer volumes, because weather in the New York area was not as icy in December and January as it was in the same period a year ago.

National Grid chief executive Steve Holliday said: “We have made good operational and financial progress against our priorities for this year and have delivered a very strong financial performance in the first half.”

He added that the business was “on track to deliver this year’s investment programme of £3.4bn, financed through internal cash flows and borrowings.”

The group added that its full-year net debt will be about £22bn, adding that its net interest charges will benefit from low inflation levels.