UK utility Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) saw its full year pre-tax earnings grow by 19.2% to GBP858.2 million, helped by strong showings in its gas storage and coal-fired generation portfolio.

SSE’s energy supply business has grown to over 6.7 million customers at the end of March 2006 – a net gain of 600,000 during the year and of 2.2 million since 2002.

SSE claims that its decisions to delay price rises have saved a typical gas and electricity customer around GBP100 since the start of 2004, compared with what they would have paid had SSE increased prices at the same time as the UK’s largest energy supplier. Prices will be held at their current levels until at least the start of 2007. However, Reuters reports that SSE has still raised residential gas tariffs by 61% since the start of 2004.

In addition, the company said the integration of the Scotland and the Southern gas networks is on schedule, following their acquisition by Scotia Gas Networks, in which SSE has a 50% stake, in June 2005. SSE has also started the investment of around GBP225 million in the installation of flue gas desulphurization equipment at its coal-fired generation plant.

On the issue of coal generation, SSE announced that it has entered into a partnership with Mitsui Babcock, Siemens UK and UK Coal to undertake the front end engineering design of a 500MW cleaner coal plant at its Ferrybridge power station.