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Centrica, owners of British Gas, announced their half year interim results yesterday. The group increased their overall total adjusted operating profit to £1,447m.
British Gas residential energy supply profits rose from £281m in the 1st half of 2011 to £335m this year.
Of course, a British company making good profits should be good news, especially for shareholders including pension funds and the resultant £431m taxation received by the UK government must also be welcome.
However, with their dominant position in the energy supply market place, the figures have been seen as a cause for concern.
Gas supply revenues were up 21%, partly due to the cool start to summer with gas consumption up 3.5% but mostly because of the 18% price increase British Gas made in August 2011 after a period of supplying gas at a loss. Electricity consumption fell by 0.1% but revenues increased by 10%.
Audrey Gallacher, Director of Energy at Consumer Focus said:
"Hard pressed consumers will be shocked to see such a big rise in profits when British Gas has been warning of the need for price increases. The disconnection between profits and prices risks deepening consumer distrust over energy bills. Wholesale prices rose slightly at the start of the year but have fallen and are now a long way from their peak.
Our economy needs profitable companies, but energy is an essential service we all need to heat our homes and keep the lights on. So customers need to know they are being charged a fair price through a competitive and transparent market. Customers need guarantees that falls in wholesale prices will be passed on as fairly and quickly as rises in wholesale prices. They also need commitments from British Gas in the light of these profit figures that there will be no customer price rises this year.”
If you are concerned that you may be paying too much for your electricity or gas it is easy to check and you may be able to save yourself some money. Simply use our free gas and electricity comparison site to find out. To get the best out of it, you'll need to know what tariff you're currently on and approximate annual energy usage, you should be able to find this information on your latest bills.