EDF has come under fire after announcing a leap in profits – despite falling sales – as families face a high price for energy.
Birmingham Friends of the Earth is taking part in Friends of the Earth’s Final Demand campaign to stop the big six energy companies, of which EDF is one, from increasing energy bills to record levels while pocketing billions in profits.
The campaign group is meeting Northfield MP Richard Burden on February 17 to support their calls for a full public inquiry into the big six’s influence.
This comes after French utility giant EDF, which supplies electricity and gas to around 5.5 million residential and business customers, reported underlying earnings of £1.6 billion in the UK in 2011, up from £1.4 billion the previous year.
Friends of the Earth believes energy bills are rocketing because the so called “big six” are keeping families hooked on expensive fossil fuels.
The green campaign group is behind a recent report – The Dirty Half-Dozen – which shows that households in the UK could face extra costs of around £300 per year as the bill for using fossil fuels to generate electricity spirals ever higher.
Robert Pass, lead campaigner on Energy and Climate Change at Birmingham Friends of the Earth said: “People in Birmingham are hopping mad that the energy companies are raking in massive profits whilst more and more of us are struggling to pay our bills.
“The Government must urgently launch a public inquiry into the behaviour of the Big Six energy companies and get us off the addiction of fossil fuels for good – a move which would be good for consumers and for the planet.”
Despite rising profits at EDF, revenues were down to £7.1 billion in the UK in 2011, from £7.7 billion the previous year, as households used less gas over the milder winter.
EDF said underlying earnings were boosted by increased nuclear output and a drop in wholesale gas prices, but consumer groups said this would leave customers confused.
Audrey Gallacher, director of energy at Consumer Focus, said: “EDF Energy’s UK profits have risen despite lower energy use in the milder winter.
“This will leave many customers wondering whether energy prices can, and should, be cut further.”
She went on: “We need successful, profitable companies. But consumers need to know big profit margins are not being made needlessly at their expense.”
EDF cut its gas bills by five per cent from February 7 after wholesale costs fell by 9% and sparked a series of reductions by rival suppliers.
However, the cut came after EDF increased gas tariffs by 15.4 per cent in November.
Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: “When people see energy suppliers announcing increased profits despite a mild winter, they’re bound to question whether they’re paying a fair price.”
He added: “The energy companies must raise their game and demonstrate their commitment to giving consumers the best price for their energy. If they do, it could be the start of a better relationship with their customers.”
The results come a week before British Gas owner Centrica publishes its own set of annual figures, in which it is expected to reveal a four per cent increase in adjusted operating profits to £2.5 billion.
However, the company is expected to reveal a 25 per cent drop in British Gas profits to £550 million, which would be the lowest level in three years.
British Gas cut bills for more than five million customers in January by announcing an average 5% drop in its standard electricity tariff.
The price cut came six months after the company increased gas bills by 18% and electricity by 16%.