British Energy Group 3Q profit falls

By Anastasia Tomazhenkova: The U.K.'s biggest power producer British Energy Group Plc announced its fiscal third-quarter profit fell 18%, weighed down by the cost of unscheduled reactor shutdowns and lower electricity prices.

Net profit for the three months through December 31 dropped to 140 million pounds (274 million dollars), or 13.5 pence per share, from 171 million pounds, or 29.2 pence, a year earlier.

British Energy's revenue depends on wholesale power prices and the reliability of its eight nuclear plants and one coal- fired station. The company said last month that shutdowns at its Heysham-1 and Hartlepool atomic plants will last until at least July, after corroded wires were found.

``The level of large losses has had a significant impact on nuclear output,'' Chief Executive Officer Bill Coley said in the statement.

British Energy incurred a cost of 70 million pounds for the current financial year buying back power it had sold in the forward market in relation to expected output from the closed Heysham-1 and Hartlepool nuclear stations. It spent another 50 million pounds buying back power for next year.

The company's nine-month operating margin dropped to 12.1 pounds a megawatt-hour from 14 pounds a megawatt-hour a year earlier as the cost of running plants rose and the price for its power declined.

British Energy rose as much as 24.5 pence, or 5%, to 513.5 pence in London trading. It was at 510.5 pence as of 9:28 a.m. local time, having earlier dropped 3.7%.

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