ENERGY giants SSE tried to spin the astronomical £246 million profits they posted yesterday as a decision to “take a hit” for their cash-strapped customers.
The company’s end-of-year statement bemoaned a 32.2 per cent drop in operating profits, adding that profit margins were unlikely to get better while their tariff freeze lasted.
The group pledged earlier this year to freeze household gas and electricity prices until January 2016.
“It remains the only such commitment available to customers and will mean we take a hit on retail profits over the next couple of years,” chief executive Alistair Phillips-Davies said.
But the Big Six boss could take comfort in a 9.6 per cent rise for the group’s pre-tax profits as a whole, ballooning to £1.55 billion thanks to its lucrative line in gas and electricity production and distribution.
Fuel Poverty Action’s Clare Welton said yesterday that it was still impossible to ignore the firm’s “astronomical” returns.
“SSE may have apologised for hiking their bills by 8.2 per cent in the autumn of 2013, but it’s an empty apology when they then subsequently report such huge profits.”
“It’s time to acknowledge that the Big Six will always put their lust for profit first and that until we have a not-for-profit, renewable energy system owned by the public and by communities the likes of SSE will continue to make a killing,” she said.
Labour shadow energy minister Jonathan Reynolds said there was “no hiding the fact” that energy companies had raked in their profits at the customers’ expense.
A Labour government would freeze all energy bills until 2017, he said.
But Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg derided Labour’s “incredibly attractive-sounding commitments.”
“‘I am going to freeze this, I am going to freeze that, I am going to abolish that, I am going to ban that’.
“People actually know that is not the way the world works,” he said.