Profits dip at Bord Gáis Energy due to Cork gas plant outage

Centrica-owned Irish unit increases customer numbers to 691,000

Bord Gáis Energy’s adjusted operating profit dipped 6 per cent to £44 million (€50 million) last year. Photograph: iStock

Bord Gáis Energy’s adjusted operating profit dipped 6 per cent to £44 million (€50 million) last year. Photograph: iStock

 

Profits at Bord Gáis Energy fell last year as a result of a maintenance outage at its Whitegate gas-fired power station in Co Cork.

Results for the year show that while the company grew its customer numbers by 2 per cent to 691,000 accounts, adjusted operating profit dipped 6 per cent to £44 million (€50 million). This was as a result of the Whitegate station being out of service for “much of the first half of the year” – its first major maintenance outage since it was commissioned in 2010.

The company, owned by British multinational energy group Centrica, said gross revenue grew 10 per cent to £907 million in 2018 as it added 12,000 customer account holdings.

“This was reflective of our range of offers, brand positioning and continued improvement in customer service,” the company said.

The improvement in customer service was seen in the 33 per cent drop in the volume of complaints to six complaints per 100,000 customers compared with nine the previous year.

“These improvements came despite a spike in cold-weather-related call volumes in the first quarter of 2018 and regulatory changes requiring us to contact customers [who had been] on the same tariff for more than three years to encourage them to check their tariff suitability.”

Centrica said the Bord Gáis Energy rewards programme was also key to attracting and retaining customers, with 44 per cent of its existing customers already signed up.

Efficiencies

The Irish arm of the conglomerate delivered cost efficiencies during the year by recording a higher proportion of sales through online channels, although Centrica didn’t specify how many sales came through its digital platform.

Despite the relatively positive Irish performance, shares in Centrica slumped to a 16-year low on Thursday after the group warned that a national price cap on energy bills in the UK, a fall in nuclear output and lower volumes at its oil and gas division would hit its 2019 results.

Centrica said a regulator-imposed cap on standard energy prices would lead to a £300 million hit to profits in 2019, including a one-off impact of about £70 million in the first quarter of 2019.

The company’s larger British Gas unit shed 742,000 customer accounts in 2018 as it came under pressure from smaller, nimbler rivals, often able to offer cheaper deals.

Centrica posted a 12 per cent rise in 2018 operating profit to £1.39 billion, bolstered by higher commodity prices, and maintained its full-year dividend at 12 pence.

The company is targeting sales of £500 million from the sale of non-core assets in 2019 and said it would sell Clockwork, its North American home services business, for $300 million (€264 million). – Additional reporting: Reuters