Feb.27 - There have been calls for an overhaul of the UK's energy industry after British Gas' parent company Centrica posted a 9% rise in profit for 2012, with £606 million coming from profits at its residential arm, just months after it increased prices. Joanna Partridge reports
A 9% rise in profit for Centrica, the owner of British Gas. It comes just months after the UK's biggest energy supplier increased prices by 6 percent. That's infuriated British Gas customers like Tracy Horgan. She says her weekly bill has doubled. SOUNDBITE: Tracy Hogan, British Gas customer, saying (English): "You have to keep thinking right, it's been on for an hour, two hours, let's get it off. Then when everyone get's a bit chilly, put your blanket on, get a jumper. I'm leaving it off as long as I can now." Centrica says British Gas 2012 profits rose to 1.09 billion pounds - just above analysts' forecasts. 606 million pounds of that profit came from supplying residential customers. It said cold weather had pushed gas use up by 12%. Centrica has come under pressure to justify why it increased consumers' bills by more than inflation. Its CEO is Sam Laidlaw. SOUNDBITE: Sam Laidlaw, Centrica CEO, saying (English): "The wholesale price of gas that we buy on the international market went up by about 13 percent. We also had other commodity charges and we had to pass that through. Now the important point is that we didn't pass all of it through which is why our margins actually went down." All six of Britain's top energy suppliers have raised tariffs this winter sparking an outcry from cash-strapped consumers. Adam Scorer from Consumer Focus says they all blame whole price rises and the need for investment. SOUNDBITE: Adam Scorer, Policy director, Consumer Focus, saying (English): "They also say " We need to make big profits, strong balance sheets in order that we can invest and improve, bring up to scratch our ageing infrastructure. And I don't contest those two points. Consumers will want to say, ok, well, how can you pass those costs on to me so easily, where's the competition in the market, how are we going to help spread the impact of this investment over a number of years so I don't feel the pinch straightaway?" The UK government has promised to take action to make sure consumers get the best deal. But that won't help families this winter - and British Gas says it can't rule out raising prices again this year.