Bord Gáis targets 600,000 customers

BORD Gáis is targeting up to 600,000 new electricity customers over the course of the next five years, which would give it a 25% share of the market by the end of 2014.

The company said yesterday that 100,000 consumers have switched to Bord Gáis for their electricity needs since it launched its ‘Big Switch’ campaign in February. A further 150,000 are expected to sign up before the end of this year, taking its share of the electricity market from 5% to 13%.

The semi-state company yesterday reported a 14% increase in turnover for 2008 to e1.38 billion.

However, pre-tax profit fell by 10%, or e15 million, to e151m. This fall was due to the cost associated with expanding into new business areas, costs of sales and share-based payments associated with the introduction, after four years of planning, of its employee share ownership plan.

Of the group turnover figure, e881m was generated from gas sales, with e282m coming from electricity sales.

Elsewhere, a dividend of e28m was paid to the exchequer, the company’s net debt rose from e1.15bn in 2007 to e1.22bn and annual capital expenditure levels grew from e204m to e318m.

At the presentation of the company’s results yesterday, group chief executive John Mullins said that as well as the pending 12% reduction in gas prices due at the beginning of May, further reductions — of between 12% and 15% — could be expected by consumers in October, based on present oil prices.

However, Mr Mullins did add that there could be a threat of residential gas prices increasing at a later date given the need for “a rebalancing” of provision tariffs — the costs faced by the company of distributing and transmitting gas and electricity — in light of capacity demand falling by 10% among commercial customers.

As part of the operational highlights of 2008, Mr Mullins said that ranking highly were the company’s expansion of its presence in Northern Ireland, the successful establishment of the aforementioned employee share ownership plan and connecting five new towns to its gas network.

Yesterday also saw the announcement that it has acquired — for an undisclosed sum — Sorne Windfarm in Co Donegal.

The broad plan is to boost the company’s renewable power capacity to about 1,500 megawatts, with a further windfarm acquisition in Co Tipperary.

In all, Mr Mullins said the company was looking to invest about e2bn in transforming itself from a traditional gas provider into an integrated energy company and ‘dual fuel’ supplier to more than one million customers.


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