Energy Firm SSE To Freeze Household Bills
'Big Six' energy firm SSE is to freeeze household bills until January 2016, it has been confirmed.
The announcement comes amid the ongoing controversy over energy bill price hikes for consumers and businesses.
SSE chief executive Alistair Phillips-Davies said: "We're setting out a positive agenda for customers, including our price freeze to 2016.
"We're making sure our own house is in order for the future by streamlining and simplifying our business.
"And we're making clear we wish to work with people to find more ways of taking costs out of energy bills."
In conjunction with the tariff freezing, SSE announced a swathe of measures to keep its overheads down.
It said "further operational efficiencies" will see it reduce costs by £100m in the coming two years, including a staff reduction of 500.
SSE said it would also legally separate its retail and wholesale segments by March next year.
The big energy providers have come under sustained fire over profits, with critics saying although retail earnings may be modest the firms' wholesale and distributions margins are too high.
The company also said it would limit the size of its deepwater Project Beatrice wind farm, located 12 miles off Scotland's Moray Firth, north-east of Inverness.
It also plans to scale back and exit some other projects to concentrate on Beatrice.
Further cost savings are expected to come from reducing the amount of capital and investment expenditure in the coming years.
It said although investment outlay would be around £1.6bn in 2014/15, this figure would drop by nearly 20% for the following three years.
SSE said it expects to report a full-year annual pre-tax profit of around 9% when it releases its results on May 21.
It expects operating profit to be 10% higher from its network distribution sector and 20% higher from its wholesale division, primarily due to greater gas production.
However, as householders become more aware of reducing energy consumption, SSE expects to see a retail profit reduction of about 25%.