SSE has announced substantial half-year profits just weeks after raising energy prices for domestic customers.
The energy firm, one of the so-called ‘Big Six’ to operate in the UK, this week announced that it had made a profit of 397.5 million between April and September a rise of more than 38 per cent on the same period last year.
The surge in profits was quickly defended by SSE Chairman, Lord Smith of Kelvin, who claimed that growing operational costs “had to be reflected in the increase in household energy prices”.
Lord Smith said: “While some observers may choose to criticise SSE for making a profit and paying a dividend, I believe that profit and dividend allow SSE to employ people, pay tax, provide services that customers need, make investments that keep the lights on and create jobs, while providing an income return that shareholders like pension funds need”.
In October, SSE increased its domestic gas and electricity tariffs by 9 per cent, affecting some 8.4 million people in the UK. The move meant that the average annual dual-fuel bill from the supplier would increase by £102 to reach £1,274.
The rise in profits at SSE was to a large extent caused by the 27.9 per cent increase in the amount of gas consumed by households in the last six months, but the firm has also had to defend accusations of price fixing in the wholesale energy market. A spokesperson for SSE stated on Wednesday that its operations in the wholesale energy market were “fair and legitimate”.
News of SSE’s profits confounded trade unions and industry watchdogs. Mike Jeram, who heads business and environmental operations at Unison, said: “It is chilling that companies such as SSE should announce these enormous half-year profits when families are being forced to take the hit for yet another massive price hike”.
Campaigns Director at Consumer Focus, Adam Scorer, insisted that energy suppliers must become more transparent about their dealings if consumer faith is to be restored in the industry.
People can save money on energy bills by improving the energy efficiency of their homes. Installing loft insulation and cavity wall insulation can cut heat loss, whilst installing solar photovoltaic panels can generate income from the Feed-In Tariff.