Centrica to exit wind power business

UK-based utility giant Centrica has announced plans to cut 10% of its staff and divest up to £1bn into wind power assets over the next two years, in order to focus on energy supply and services.

Centrica chief executive Iain Conn said: “Our purpose is to provide energy and services to satisfy the changing needs of our customers, and as such we will focus our growth ambitions on our customer-facing activities.”

The firm plans to increase its service offerings for the market, which will include assistance for large business groups for implementation of power saving measures such as energy-efficient light bulbs.

“Net reduction should be about 4,000 roles, before growth in the workforce necessary to deliver the roll-out of smart meters in the UK.”

Centrica is not the only firm making cost reductions, as several European companies have taken similar paths to cope with dwindling energy prices and the drop in demand.

The firm, which has around 37,500 employees, intends to close 6,000 positions to help it survive current market conditions.

The company said in a statement: We estimate that the efficiency programme will cost around £500m to £600m in investment and rationalisation expense to deliver, and is likely to involve a reduction in like-for-like headcount by 2020 of around 6,000 roles.

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“Taking account of additional headcount in the growth areas, the net reduction should be about 4,000 roles, before growth in the workforce necessary to deliver the roll-out of smart meters in the UK.

“We would expect roughly half of the reduction in the 6,000 roles to come from natural attrition and half from redundancies, with most redundancies occurring before the end of 2017.”

The firm, which maintains 245MW of operational capacity through wind energy projects, has planned an exit from the sector.

“In wind power generation, with total operational capacity of only 245MW and no existing potential developments in the pipeline, we plan to dispose of our interests, continuing to participate to a limited degree through power purchase agreements,” Centrica added.

Centrica owns a 50% stake in the 270MW Lincs offshore wind farm. It is also part of a joint venture with EIG Global Energy Partners, which operates the offshore wind projects of Lynn and Inner Dowsing in the UK. Each has a 97MW capacity, along with 26MW Glens of Foudland onshore farm in Scotland.

Image: Centrica head office. Photo: courtesy of Centrica plc.