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UK's National Grid to step into U.S. offshore wind

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By Nina Chestney

LONDON (Reuters) -UK-listed grid operator National Grid has partnered with Germany utility RWE to develop offshore wind projects in the United States, it said in its full-year results on Thursday.

National Grid owns and operates electricity and gas transmission and distribution networks in Britain and the United States.

Its investment arm National Grid Ventures (NGV) has signed a joint venture partnership agreement with RWE Renewables to jointly develop offshore wind projects in the coastal region of the northeast United States.

Under the agreement, NGV and RWE will work together to explore opportunities in the U.S. offshore wind market with an intention to jointly bid in a future federal seabed lease auction.

"As the U.S. offshore wind market is opening up, we see this as a perfect opportunity," National Grid Chief Executive John Pettigrew told Reuters in an interview.

The firm is already active in U.S. onshore wind, having bought renewables developer Geronimo in 2019.

While the fledgling U.S. offshore wind market lags that of Europe and China, it is expected to experience rapid growth. U.S. President Joe Biden wants to open new areas to development, accelerate permits, and boost public financing for projects.

Earlier this month, the U.S. government approved the nation's first major offshore wind farm, the Vineyard wind project off the coast of Massachusetts.

In its results, National Grid said its underlying operating profit was down 5% to 3.28 billion pounds ($4.7 billion) from a year earlier, due to the impact of COVID-19.

The company recommended a final dividend to bring its full-year payout to 49.16 pence, up 1.2% from a year earlier.

In March, it said it would buy England's largest electricity distribution business WPD from U.S.-based PPL for 7.8 billion pounds. National Grid said it expects that acquisition to be completed by July.

The process for the sale of its UK gas transmission business will be launched in the second half of this year because work needs to be done on separating it out from the rest of the company, Pettigrew said.

($1 = 0.7083 pounds)

(Reporting by Nina Chestney; Editing by Jan Harvey and Muralikumar Anantharaman)

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