The energy supplier SSE has announced its profits have risen by 2% with pre-tax profits of £1.33bn.
SSE has seen a growth in its power generation business which has helped to offset its retail operation. The company said the year had been one of turmoil in the global energy markets with economic uncertainty.
The company’s operating costs for its retail division which supplies gas and electricity to both the domestic market and businesses fell 20% to £321.6m. At the same time its operating profit at its wholesale business unit was up 6.4% to £607.9m.
Chairman of SSE, Lord Smith of Kelvin, said “Higher wholesale gas prices, falling demand for energy and a succession of winter storms presented major challenges for the wholesale, retail and networks parts of SSE”.
He added that the profit made by SSE allowed the company to “employ people, pay tax, make investments that keep the lights on and provide an income return that shareholders like pension funds need”.
Higher wholesale gas prices have been blamed by a number of energy providers for increases in both business electricity prices and gas prices.
Meanwhile Phoenix Energy has agreed to sell its gas supply business to Airtricity, SSE’s retail supply brand. Phoenix Supply is the leading gas supplier in Northern Ireland with around 130,000 domestic and business customers in Greater Belfast. The acquisition will mean Airtricity will become the second largest energy supplier and dual fuel provider in Northern Ireland.
The CEO of Airtricity and Director of Business Supply, Contracting and International at SSE, Kevin Greenhorn, said “We’re delighted to be entering into this agreement and see it as an exciting new chapter in SSE’s long-term sustained growth in Northern Ireland. This is a significant step forward for both Airtricity and Phoenix Supply as we seek to become the largest supplier of both electricity and natural gas in Northern Ireland. This is especially exciting as for the first time consumers in Northern Ireland, including Airtricity and Phoenix Supply customers, will be able to enjoy the benefits of dual fuel products and services”.
The acquisition has to be approved by the Irish Competition Authority and the purchase is expected to be completed in the summer.