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British Gas profits drop & chairman warns of blackout

20th Feb 14 11:42 am

Well, you might say that the chairman of British Gas-owner Centrica would warn of power cuts at a time like this, as he fights to defend his company against accusations that profit margins are too high and that they could be safely reduced without risk of black-out.

Centrica chairman Rick Haythornthwaite has cautioned that we could be at risk of black-out, following today’s announcement that profits at British Gas dropped 6% to £571m in 2013.

Sky News reports that Haythornthwaite said the political furore over energy prices is hurting long-term investment in the UK.

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Haythornthwaite said: “I think it’s immensely damaging not just for Centrica but for the nation.

“I think the reputation of Britain as a place in which to invest is under threat and the time to correct that is now, not after the 2015 election, by which time the possibility of the lights going out in Britain will be looming much larger.”

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Centrica described last year as one of “difficult market conditions” in a statement.

Centrica as a whole saw profits drop from £2.74bn in 2012 to £2.7bn in 2013.

Centrica CEO Sam Laidlaw, meanwhile, has told the BBC that 2014 will “remain challenging, with margin pressures and unusual weather patterns on both sides of the Atlantic, rising unit costs in the North Sea and weak economics for gas storage and gas-fired power generation”.

Here’s Laidlaw, being interviewed by the BBC:

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