Scottish eyes EDF's UK power stations in its growth plans

SCOTTISH AND SOUTHERN, the energy group, announced its intention to expand yesterday, as it rounded up its debt refinancing project, and reported annual pre-tax profits of &pound;1.25bn,&nbsp;up 2 per cent from &pound;1.22bn last&nbsp;year.<br /><br />The UK&rsquo;s second-biggest energy producer plans to seek European funding for a wind farm project in the Shetland Islands, which could power 500,000 homes. The bid was made with its partner Viking Energy.<br /><br />Scottish also announced its intention to build two 435-megawatt combined-cycle gas turbines at Abernedd in Wales, as well as a pumped storage facility in Scotland.<br /><br />It said it was eying up EDF&rsquo;s UK power station network, and may buy it if the group were to sell it, as EDF seeks to raise funds. The French group may sell off its assets to get cash so it can invest in new nuclear power stations.<br /><br />The company said it wouldn&rsquo;t raise prices over the next 18 months, but made no fresh promises on price cuts.<br /><br />&ldquo;2008/09 was a tough year, dominated in the first half by very high wholesale prices for electricity and gas,&rdquo; chairman Lord Smith said.<br /><br />Energy companies have been hit in the downturn as demand from construction companies falls off.<br /><br />The group said its underlying profits went up 4.2 per cent to &pound;913.2m, excluding around &pound;800m of one-off payments. The payments were mainly the result of derivative valuations.<br /><br />Scottish also said it had put up its dividend by 9.1 per cent to 66p for the year.