Belfast Telegraph

Viridian posts £52.8m six month profits after resolving I-SEM issue

Viridian chief executive, Ian Thom
Viridian chief executive, Ian Thom
Ryan McAleer

By Ryan McAleer

One of Northern Ireland's biggest energy companies has posted pre-tax profits of £52.8m for the six months to September 30.

It comes after Viridian Group Investment Ltd, which owns Power NI, recorded an unusual pre-tax loss of almost £100m in the last financial year.

Power NI supplies electricity to 495,000 homes and businesses in Northern Ireland. Viridian, led by chief executive Ian Thom, also owns the all-island Energia Group, which supplies 255,000 customers in Northern Ireland and the Republic. Energia also owns 53 wind farms, including 13 in Northern Ireland.

The group has consistently ranked as one of Northern Ireland's most profitable companies. The Belfast Telegraph's most recent list of NI's top 100 firms ranked Viridian at number three.

But its £68.6m pre-tax profit at the end of March 2017 was followed by a £97.4m loss before tax in the year to March 31 2018.

Despite an 18% increase in revenue to £1.56bn, rising costs and the uncertainty over the new Integrated Single Electricity Market (I-SEM) hit the group's accounts in last financial year.

Viridian's operating costs of £1.59bn exceeded its £1.56bn income over the 12 months. However that included an exceptional impairment cost of £124.2m linked to its Huntstown plants in Dublin.

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The group said the cost "was recognised in relation to an impairment of the property, plant and equipment of the Huntstown plants associated with the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the future operation of the plants from the commencement of I-SEM".

Its new six month report shows a much healthier balance book, with its £811.8m revenues exceeding its £742.8m operating costs for the quarter.

Viridian also confirmed that Energia had resolved its I-SEM issues, reaching agreement with EirGrid and the Republic's Commission for Regulation of Utilities on September 30 2018 for the Huntstown plants.

The new report also shows that Power NI lost 3,000 residential customers in the three months from June 30 to September 30 this year. Most of Northern Ireland's energy suppliers, including Power NI, announced rates hikes over the summer. Power NI said the 13.8% increase in its rate, effective from October 1, was largely driven by the rising price of gas, which rose by 30% in the last year.

Belfast Telegraph