Profits up 22% at NIE Networks as it consolidates all Belfast staff in refurbished Danesfort Building

NIE Networks reports operating profit of €78m (£67m) for 2023

Exterior of Danesfort Building, with NIE Networks engineer (inset).
NIE Networks has closed three offices in Belfast and consolidated all staff in its former HQ at Danesfort.

The company that owns the north’s electricity transmission and distribution infrastructure saw its profits surge by more than 20% last year.

Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE) Networks recorded an operating profit of €78 million (£67m) in 2023, €14m (£12m) more than 2022.

The figures were disclosed in the ESB Group’s annual report, published on Thursday.

The Irish state-owned energy group reported a 30% surge in its after-tax profits to €868m (£741m) last year.

ESB, which also owns Electric Ireland, bought NIE Networks for around £1.2 billion in 2010.

The group said while the “extraordinary volatility” in global energy markets had eased, wholesale prices were still “unpredictable” and significantly higher than the levels seen prior to the energy crisis.

Group-wide, ESB recorded an operating profit before interest and tax of over €1.1 billion (£940m), up over €274m (£234m) on 2022.

ESB said the higher profits for NIE Networks was a result of higher ‘use of system’ revenues, “which is reflective of NIE Networks’ continued investment in its regulated asset base, coupled with the impact of inflation”.

The group said the higher profit helped finance underlying capital expenditure of €252m (£215m) in 2023, which was €32m (15%) up on 2022.

The capital expenditure carried out by NIE Networks during 2023 included the refurbishment and replacement of “obsolete, spent or fault-prone transmission and distribution assets”.

Network assets were also upgraded to increase capacity, provide electricity connections, maintain reliability of supply and to ensure the safety of the network.

“There have also been investments in major transmission projects as required by the System Operator for Northern Ireland (SONI).”

The report showed NIE Networks employed 1,436 people during 2023.

NIE Networks said the outage was caused by a fault at a substation
NIE Networks' workforce grew to 1,436 people in 2023.

It also confirmed NIE Networks has now consolidated its Belfast staff from three other offices into the Danesfort Building in Stranmillis.

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

The imposing 78,000 sq ft south Belfast building was placed on the market in 2021 for around £5m.

It was acquired by Derry’s Martin Property Group in 2022.

Prior to the sale, NIE Networks had been leasing around 15,000 sq ft.

It subsequently entered into a new lease agreement for newly refurbished office space at Danesfort.

Staff from its other three Belfast offices began relocating in late 2022, with the final staff transferring to Danesfort in September 2023.

Commenting on the 2023 results, ESB’s chief financial officer Paul Stapleton said the group had reported a strong financial performance for 2023.

“This underpins a second consecutive year of record levels of capital investment by ESB in energy infrastructure.

“This investment is critical for the economy and for Ireland’s transition to a net zero energy system. The funding of our capital expenditure programme – forecasted at over €11bn over the next five years – will require continued strong financial performance and further profit growth.”