National Grid’s net zero ambitions

National Grid is buying the UK’s largest electricity distribution business for £7.8bn and plans to sell its gas transmission arm in a switch it says will enhance its role in delivering net zero.

The group agreed to acquire Western Power Distribution (WPD) from America’s PPL corporation in the latest transformation of the utility business responsible for keeping the UK’s lights on.

Buying WPD gives National Grid control over an electricity distribution network serving 7.9 million customers in the Midlands, the South West and Wales, with over 6,500 staff.

Meanwhile it plans to offload a majority stake in National Grid Gas (NGG), responsible for Britain’s national gas transmission network and which employs 2,200 people, by the end of next year.

National Grid said the transactions would see the proportion of its assets focused on electricity rise from 60% to 70%.

It said the electricity distribution business was “expected to see a high level of asset growth as a result of the ongoing energy transition”.

The company added that the deals would “significantly enhance National Grid’s central role in the delivery of the UK’s net zero targets”.

National Grid chief executive John Pettigrew said: “These transactions will be transformational for our UK portfolio.”

The company is already largely responsible for Britain’s high voltage electricity transmission grid while six separate businesses – one of them WPD – carry power from the grid to industrial, commercial and domestic users.