Belfast Telegraph

Mutual Energy profits fall by 70% as faulty line takes toll

By Margaret Canning

Power asset operator Mutual Energy saw a 70% fall in operating profit in 2014 because of the cost of repairing the troubled Moyle interconnector, the company said.

The business also reported a 0.7% fall in turnover to £57.3m, and operating profit was down to £10.9m from £40.9m.

Mutual Energy owns and operates the Scotland-Northern Ireland gas pipeline, the Belfast gas transmission pipeline and the Moyle electricity interconnector, which runs under the sea and links the Northern Ireland electricity grid with the Scottish one.

It was installed to bring in cheaper electricity from Scotland but has been running at 50% capacity since 2011. The company has said that repairs will be finished by the end of 2016.

The decline in operating profit was partly down to the deduction of £13.7m relating to the costs of repairing the interconnector, the company said, while the £40.9m profits a year earlier had been owing to insurance receipts of £11.8m for the repairs.

Last year, Mutual Energy and Scotia Gas won a contract to extend Northern Ireland's natural gas network to 40,000 customers in the north and west of the region in a project worth £200m.

Mutual Energy chairwoman Regina Finn said 2014 had been a "very successful" year.

"We have seen real progress across all aspects of our business - from the replacement of the Moyle electricity interconnector to the development of the new Gas to the West infrastructure in Northern Ireland," she added.

"Our projects, like all of our business, are designed to deliver the best possible deal for Northern Ireland's energy consumers."

She also told how the work on the Moyle cables would get the interconnector back to 100% capacity a year earlier than planned and at a lower cost.

"This means Northern Ireland's electricity consumers will benefit from an earlier restoration of security of supply at a lower cost, Mrs Finn said.

She added that the firm's gas assets had performed well, and that the company had been "delighted" to win the competition to deliver natural gas to the west, saying: "The major gas transmission pipeline that serves this new network will be another significant addition to our business. We look forward to helping many more households and businesses enjoy the benefits of natural gas."

Belfast Telegraph