THERE are no plans to remove Bord Gáis from state control, according to chief executive John Mullins who also revealed that profits will be down this year.
Bord Gáis will, however, still return a “manageable” profit and will report a turnover of around €450 million from its energy business this year.
Mr Mullins said it is the firm’s view is that it does not need privatisation for funding and the issue is “not within the remit of the board”.
“There’s a view by the opposition that they would like to privatise. I have a fundamental view that infrastructure should be held by the state. That is vitally important. We’ve seen what has happened in other sectors where privatisation has taken place. It hasn’t worked,” he said.
“State infrastructure is a national asset. The founders of this company and the founders of ESB set up the companies to service the state and we do that appropriately,” he added.
Mr Mullins said Bord Gáis must continue to reduce costs and offer value to customers. He said any proposals for privatisation will be a Government decision and will have nothing to do with the company.
“There is no agenda at this time in relation to privatisation. It will be held in state hands unless there is a clear change of view at government level and as far as I’m concerned I run the company on that basis,” he said.
He said that profits would decline at Bord Gáis this year due to increased interest rates, heavy investing and the company’s rising operating costs.
A third of turnover is now generated from electricity and two thirds from gas.
“In the circumstances we’ve had a good year. I think we’ve had a serious concentration on cost reduction in the company,” said Mr Mullins.
Bord Gáis will be supplying most of its electricity from a new gas-powered generation plant in Whitegate from next year.
It expects this plant to be fired-up in December, with testing to begin early next year.
This will enable it to provide energy for more than 400,000 customers.
Mr Mullins said customer response to its Big Switch campaign has been excellent. Earlier this year Bord Gáis announced it was entering the electricity market and it now has more than 200,000 customers.
“We tapped into the mood of the nation and they responded. It has been a very simple campaign and things that are simple are best,” he said, adding that 25,000 farmers are now with Bord Gáis.
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