ScottishPower yesterday said it had awarded £196 million in network upgrade contracts which will see 150 new trainees recruited into the industry.
The 13 contracts for its overhead power line networks in Scotland, Merseyside and North Wales will support around 400 jobs in total with firms including Glasgow-based Gaeltec benefiting.
The announcement came as Spanish parent company Iberdrola announced its results for the first nine months of the year.
ScottishPower’s supply and generation business saw earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation (Ebitda) fall by 17.8 per cent to €250m (£183.6m). The Glasgow-headquartered firm blamed the reduction on factors such as increased energy taxes and a significant drop in coal generation.
But the UK renewables business saw earnings double to €301m, reflecting increased production as well as the impact of the strong pound.
Total renewable energy production was up 30.3 per cent over the nine months since the same period last year.
Its networks business saw earnings rise to €821m, up from €727m, as it said it saw the benefits of the multi-billion pound investment programme in networks upgrade.
Some 3.5 million homes and businesses are connected to its SP Energy Networks distribution network, which includes 30,000 substations, 40,000km of overhead lines and 65,000km of underground cables.
Keith Anderson, ScottishPower chief corporate officer, said: “Our record annual investment of £1.3 billion remains on track and the new contracts awarded will support our ambitious programme to deliver some of the most significant upgrades to our network in more than half a century.
“Between now and 2023 we are investing more than £4bn in total, further improving reliability for our customers and making our network more resilient to extreme winter weather. We also need to encourage a new generation of technicians and engineers in to our industry, so it is great to see 150 new trainees coming in to our industry as part of these contracts.”
Anderson said the figures for renewables showed that that onshore and offshore wind can be significant contributors to the UK’s generation mix.
But he said with coal power generation now uneconomic, the priority should be for a government framework that enables investment to steadily realise a new generation of gas power stations to provide base load.
The 150 new trainee posts will be created through partnerships with colleges including Dumfries College and Forth Valley College. ScottishPower is looking to refurbish or replace around 11,000km of its overhead line network in the years ahead.
Iberdrola’s group earnings figure for the first nine months of the year was up 5.8 per cent to €5.43bn. Net profit was up 7.8 per cent to €1.92bn. The company said it was on track to deliver earnings in line with expectations for the full financial year.