NIE Networks recorded £91.5m pre-tax profit in 2023, despite its wage bill soaring by £13m

Electricity infrastructure company now employs more than 1,500 people

NIE Networks said the outage was caused by a fault at a substation
NIE Networks said its workforce grew to 1,506 people at the end of 2023.

The company that owns the north’s electricity transmission and distribution infrastructure recorded a pre-tax profit of £91.5 million last year, despite seeing its wage bill soar by £13.2m.

NIE Networks’ revenue increased by 12% to £339.6m in the year ending December 31 2023, according to its latest annual report.

It contributed to a £12m uplift in profit before tax.

The infrastructure firm said the higher earnings was “primarily a result of higher use of system revenues”, coupled with the impact of inflation.

Profits were partially offset by higher interest costs to finance the investment in the north’ electricity network.

A total of £161m was invested in the network last year, £32m more than in 2022.

NIE Networks has been part of the Irish state-owned ESB Group since it was acquired for £1.2 billion in 2010.

It’s responsible for the 47,000km of overhead lines and underground cables used for the transfer of electricity to over 910,000 customers in the north.

The company recently moved to centralise its Belfast operation into the Danesfort Building in Stranmillis.

Built in 1959, Danesfort was originally NIE’s headquarters before being sold to Ulster Bank in 2002.

It was acquired by Derry’s Martin Property Group in 2022, which commenced a refurbishment programme.

NIE’s annual report suggests the relocation from three other offices may have come at a cost.

It states the company paid £3m to settle lease liabilities during 2023.

NIE Networks also revealed its workforce stood at 1,506 people at the end of 2023.

The 139 additional staff recruited in 2023 was a factor in the £13.2m surge in its wage and salary bill to £74m last year.

When pensions and social security costs were factored in, the total annual bill rose to £99.7m.

The rising cost of labour and inflationary pressures in general saw group operating costs rise by £19m last year to £204.4m.

Meanwhile, the annual report said NIE Networks’ customer contact centre received around 30,000 calls during Storm Isha in January 2024.

It said the 80mph winds, described as the largest wind-only storm event since December 1998, caused 1,100 individual faults, leaving 53,000 customers without power at its peak.

NIE Networks estimate 7.2TWh of electricity was transmitted and distributed to customers in Northern Ireland during 2023, lower than the 7.3TWh estimate for 2022.