Energy company SSE has seen its half-year profits rise by 38.3%.
The supplier made £397.5 million before tax in the six months up to September, a rise from £287.4 million last year.
SSE was the first of the ‘Big Six’ to announce an increase in gas and electricity prices this year, affecting around 8.4 million customers and pushing its average bill from £1,235 to £1,354 a year.
Lord Smith of Kelvin, Chairman of SSE declared the energy market conditions “remain challenging”.
He said: “The prices achieved for generating electricity have been weak and higher gas and non-energy costs unfortunately had to be reflected in the increase in household energy prices which SSE implemented last month.
“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.”
Consumer Focus said the profits will increase customers’ distrust in the industry. Adam Scorer, Director of Policy and External Affairs said: “The furore over wholesale costs, energy pricing and company profits has deepened consumer distrust in the energy industry. Energy companies need to make profit so they can invest in our energy infrastructure. But if confidence is to be rebuilt in this market, the information that all energy firms are required to provide must be fully transparent, comparable and include profit and trading information from across the whole of their business.”
Ann Robinson, Director of Consumer Policy at uSwitch.com added: “Consumers will be bitterly disappointed to see profits soaring so shortly after being asked to swallow a 9% price hike. And while SSE has pledged not to increase its prices again until at least the second half of 2013, whether this will be enough to satisfy customers in the face of these headline profits remains to be seen.”
The news comes days after allegations by a whistleblower that power companies might be manipulating the wholesale price of gas. SSE and other major suppliers have denied any involvement.