This morning I announced our half year results at the London Stock Exchange to media and investors, and in preparing for this I was reminded of the huge amount of hard work you have delivered over our first six months.
Today we reported a solid set of results, with continued strong performance and good progress against our strategic objectives. There was a slight decrease in underlying operating profit to £1.3 billion, which was expected and reflects the return of our UK Gas Transmission allowances associated with Avonmouth, lower profits in the US due to storm costs, and the impact of US tax reform.
However, financial results tell only part of the story. I was therefore delighted to report near 100 per cent reliability in the UK and strong US reliability despite the storms in April and May. Our Group safety performance remains as good, or better, than almost all other equivalent safety-critical companies across the world. But we can never be complacent, and we must continue to prioritise safety as we head into the winter months.
In our first six months of the year we invested a total £2.1 billion into the business. To keep funding this investment, we must continue to keep our eye on costs and review our processes to ensure we make the lowest possible impact on consumers’ rising energy bills. This means improving what we do every day, growing our core businesses and investing to deliver what our customers require for tomorrow.
For this reason we’ve started a significant cost efficiency programme in the UK to become a leaner, more agile business. And we’ve set ourselves up to grow our core business in the future, by completing the full refresh of rates for our US distribution businesses, and today announcing our intention to exercise our option over the remaining 39% share in Cadent. This will complete at the end of June 2019 and will enable us to invest a further £2 billion back into our business.
There has also been a huge amount of work to support the health of our aging assets in the US and UK, including our work on Feeder 9 to safeguard the security of supply for a pipeline that transports 20% of the UK’s annual gas needs, as well as investments in storm hardening in our US electric distribution businesses and the work we are doing to replace leak prone pipe in US gas distribution.
We are also continuing to place ourselves firmly at the centre of the energy transformation and today we confirmed a £850m investment in the Viking interconnector and of course we continue to play a key role in the adoption of electric vehicles both in the UK and US. And today we’ve also announced an exciting step toward preparing ourselves for what tomorrow’s customers and society may need, creating a venture capital business called National Grid Partners, based in California to ensure we’re at the forefront of technological developments and invest in new ideas. We’ve made such four investments in the last six months including Climacell, which provides hyper-local, high accuracy weather forecasting through sensors. This will help with both the US and UK in disaster planning, readiness and response.
Our results today remind us that performance matters, to us, our customers and our investors. We have made strong progress on this already and I know for some of you, this has brought some big, sometimes painful changes within your teams. Thank you for your perseverance and support to manage these changes for the benefit of our customers, whether that’s been working through restructures in NGV and UK or supporting the Work Continuation effort in Massachusetts.