Disastrous PacifiCorp performance costs ScottishPower US chief his job

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The Independent Online

The chairman of ScottishPower's electricity business in the US was ousted yesterday after a disastrous performance which has seen the division hit by exceptional losses of $700m (£487m) in the past year.

Alan Richardson, who took over as head of PacifiCorp after ScottishPower's £7bn acquisition of the West Coast utility in 1999, is expected to receive a pay-off worth about £500,000. He was paid £528,000 last year and has share options worth £290,000.

Mr Richardson has paid the price for failing to read the US electricity markets correctly in the past 12 months, which resulted in two profit warnings.

In December last year, ScottishPower warned of a $160m charge to cover the cost of buying high-priced electricity while its Hunter power station was out of action. Then last month, it disclosed a $520m charge to cover losses caused by a collapse in electricity prices.

In November, Ian Russell, ScottishPower's chief executive, conceded "no progress at all" had been made in improving returns from PacifiCorp. ScottishPower also announced plans to raise £1.9bn from refinancing its Southern Water business. The proceeds will be used partly to build more power station capacity in the US.