Bill freeze has chill­ing ef­fect on Bri­tish Gas

The Sunday Telegraph - Money & Business - - Front page - By Jil­lian Am­brose

THE owner of Bri­tish Gas faces a hit to prof­its af­ter bow­ing to po­lit­i­cal pres­sure to keep bills down in the face of climb­ing costs.

Cen­trica is ex­pected to re­veal that earn­ings from its res­i­den­tial sup­ply arm fell by a quar­ter in the first half of this year, to £487m, af­ter it kept to its prom­ise not to raise prices be­fore Au­gust. The sup­plier was also hit by mild weather and fall­ing cus­tomer num­bers. Mean­while, losses are ex­pected to have deep­ened in the newer busi­ness ar­eas set up to de­velop small-scale elec­tric­ity and “smart” home en­ergy de­vices.

The Gov­ern­ment’s back­ing for bat­tery tech­nolo­gies and elec­tric ve­hi­cles last week could bring a boom for the bur­geon­ing mar­ket but not all are con­vinced that the Big Six en­ergy sup­pli­ers will be able to tap into it.

Stephen Hunt, a Bar­clays an­a­lyst, warned that en­ergy in­cum­bents may be re­duced to the role of “chal­lenger brands” when faced with com­pe­ti­tion from es­tab­lished tech gi­ants such as Ap­ple and Google.

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