Energy giant Centrica, which owns utility supplier British Gas, has revealed that its profits rose sharply in the first half of the year, boosted by slightly higher consumption.
In its latest update, the company confirmed that profits at British Gas Residential were up by 23 per cent in the opening six months of 2012, totalling £345m. Although the company cut its standard electricity prices by five per cent in January, this did not cancel out an earlier 16 per cent hike.
“Centrica has performed well in the first half of 2012 despite challenging market conditions, although the increase in earnings must be placed in the context of unusually low levels of consumption and profits in the UK in the first half of 2011,” said chief executive Sam Laidlaw.
Gas consumption rose by 3.5 per cent, considerably lower than the rate of increase in profits. This prompted criticism from Consumer Focus, which noted that wholesale gas prices remained a long way below the highs of 2008.
Earlier this month, industry watchdog Ofgem confirmed that household utility bills would rise further over the next eight years to cover the costs of energy network upgrades.