Scottish and Southern the latest utility to hike fuel bills

SCOTTISH & Southern Energy (SSE) yesterday became the third large British energy supplier to hike its fuel prices this summer.

Electricity bills will increase by 11 per cent and gas will go up by 18 per cent from 14 September, affecting 8.8m households in Britain, the utility firm warned in a statement.

Customers on duel fuel options will see their annual bill rise by £171 to £1,265.

“I am sorry that we have had to announce an increase in household energy prices at a time when many people’s budgets are under strain, but the upward pressures on prices have become too great,” said SSE chief executive Ian Marchant.

He blamed the move on rising wholesale prices and said this was caused in part by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan and political upheaval in the Middle East.

SSE follows Scottish Power and Centrica in raising energy bills from this summer as all energy providers struggle to deal with surging wholesale prices. Analysts, however, estimate that SSE’s bills will be slightly cheaper by one to two per cent.

Energy secretary Chris Huhne said the price hike was “unwelcomed news” for households and that his plans for power market reform were aimed at reducing the UK’s reliance on expensive fossil fuels.

The energy supplier said in its interim management statement, also released yesterday, that it expected to deliver a larger part of its pre-tax profits for 2011/12 in the second half of the year, when tariff rises will take effect.