Blackouts lead to cut in Grid chief's bonus

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The Independent Online

Bonus payments to directors of National Grid Transco have been cut by 10 per cent because of blackouts last summer that plunged London and Birmingham into darkness and caused chaos on the Tube system.

The company's annual report and accounts, published yesterday, show that four directors, including Roger Urwin, the chief executive, had their annual bonuses reduced.

Mr Urwin's bonus was cut by £63,500, including matching shares he would have received under a separate scheme. Nevertheless, he still received an annual bonus of £395,000, taking his pay to more than £1m for the first time. Together with a basic salary of £635,000 and benefits in kind of £21,000, Mr Urwin received £1,051,000. He also received a £1m top-up to his pension fund, taking it to £7.35m.

The other directors who saw their bonuses cut were Steve Lucas, the finance director, and the two executive directors of National Grid Transco's UK transmission and gas distribution businesses, Nick Winser and Steve Holliday.

Mr Lucas earned £611,000, including a reduced bonus of £217,000, while Mr Winser and Mr Holliday received £602,000 and £633,000 respectively.

The London power failure last August blacked out nearly half a million homes in the south of the capital and brought the Tube to a standstill, trapping thousands of commuters underground. A week later a power failure disrupted supplies to a large number of homes in Birmingham after problems occurred commissioning a new substation.

The London blackout was subsequently traced to the faulty installation of a fuse no bigger than a shoebox. National Grid Transco denied its maintenance system was at fault or that the failure had been caused by under-investment. Nevertheless, engineers claim that the London electricity grid has been plagued with problems and a shortage of experienced staff for control centres.

A secret Department of Trade and Industry report has cleared National Grid Transco over the London blackout but the industry regulator, Ofgem, is still deciding whether to fine the company for a breach of its licence. It could face a penalty equal to 10 per cent of turnover.