finance

UK's National Grid to invest 10 billion pounds in power network by 2026



© Reuters. Sunset over Drax power station in North Yorkshire

(Reuters) – Britain’s National Grid (LON:) said on Tuesday it broadly accepted a price control proposal from regulator Ofgem and would invest around 10 billion pounds in the power transmission network that it operates by 2026.

In December, Ofgem gave the go-ahead for 40 billion pounds ($53.4 billion) in spending on utility networks between 2021-2026 to prepare for more renewable power, including a higher-than-planned limit on grid operators’ returns.

National Grid said it was pleased to see the increase in allowances and accepted the overall package for its role as electricity system operator, while broadly accepting the package for electricity and transmission businesses.

The price controls take effect from April 2021.

“This package will allow the critical investment required to maintain the resilience and reliability of our networks,” National Grid said.

At nearly 2 billion pounds a year on average, investment would be higher than the previous price control period, it said.

National Grid said it would submit a technical appeal to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) regarding Ofgem’s proposed cost of equity and downward adjustment to allowed returns in expectation of future outperformance.

SSEN Transmission, part of utility SSE (LON:), said it would also appeal these issues with the CMA, in addition to areas relating to new exposure to transmission charges and the loss of appeals right relating to total expenditure.

If accepted, the six-month appeal process would begin from April and final determinations could be expected in October.

National Grid said it expected credit metrics to remain below the required threshold levels of a BBB+/Baa1 debt rating on an ongoing basis due to the increased investment programme.

It said it was confident of retaining access to debt markets even if agencies downgraded the National Grid Group’s ratings.

National Grid said it aimed to deliver annual dividend per share growth in line with the British CPIH inflation from the full business year 2021/22.

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