November 14, 2019 / 11:23 AM / a month ago

UPDATE 2-UK's National Grid looks past regulatory challenges after profit beat

* H1 profit above market view

* Shares climb more than 1%

* CEO does not expect a fine for Aug. 9 blackouts (Adds CEO comments from call)

By Muvija M

Nov 14 (Reuters) - National Grid said on Thursday it was confident it would be able to address concerns over gas supplies raised this week by governor of New York who warned he could revoke the British firm's licence to operate in southern parts of the state.

The utility, which runs Britain's energy system and operates a gas franchise in New York City and Long Island, also said it expected to avoid being fined by Britain's energy regulator over widespread outages in August.

It offered the assurances after reporting higher-than-expected half-year profit.

Earlier this week, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo threatened to strip National Grid of its licence to supply gas in the city and Long Island, saying that it had failed to provide "adequate and reliable service".

He gave the company 14 days to respond and explain why it should retain the license.

National Grid said it continued to work with all parties to find a long term solution to ensure gas supplies and was confident it would be able to satisfactorily address Cuomo's concerns.

The company also ran into trouble in its home market after a blackout caused by a lightning strike left more than a million customers including homes, businesses, a hospital and Newcastle Airport without power.

"We did a thorough and detailed investigation...we are not expecting the (regulator) Ofgem will fine us because everything operated as intended and in line with our license and security standards," Chief Executive Officer John Pettigrew told Reuters.

National Grid shares climbed 1.2% to 902 pence by 0921 GMT, outperforming the broader index, which was down 0.4%

NET ZERO BY 2050

National Grid reported its underlying profit before tax fell 4% to 785 million pounds ($1 billion) for the six months ended Sept. 30. The result came above the 748 million pound figure that analysts had expected investors.nationalgrid.com/~/media/Files/N/National-Grid-IR-V2/results-centre/2020/Analyst%20Consensus%20Rollup_8%20Nov%202019%20Final.pdf, with the power company citing the strength of its U.S. business.

National Grid also set a new target to reach net zero emissions by 2050 for a cleaner energy future, in line with the country's goal. It had in 2008 set an 80% reduction plan by 2050.

"This objective will be supported by work in other areas, such as offering further energy efficiency programmes for our U.S. customers, proposals for renewable natural gas and hydrogen blending programmes," Pettigrew said.

The pledge follows calls from politicians, corporations and organisations around the world to tackle global warming and the disruption to climate conditions.

$1 = 0.7815 pounds Reporting by Muvija M in Bengaluru, additional reporting by Safia Infant; Editing by Tomasz Janowski and Emelia Sithole-Matarise

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