UK gas and electricity supplier Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) has seen strong growth over the six months to September 30, 2005, with pre-tax profit for the period up 25.5% to GBP336.3 million.

In explaining the good results the company pointed to growth in its generation and supply operation, which has benefited from a series of acquisitions in recent months, including the purchase of the Fiddler’s Ferry and Ferrybridge power stations in northern England.

SSE now intends to spend GBP225 million on upgrading its coal fired stations to help meet carbon emissions standards – this will largely be achieved through fitting flue gas desulphurization equipment.

However the utility is set to increase retail tariffs by up to 13.6% from the start of 2006 as it battles to combat rising wholesale costs and carbon trading fees.

Commenting on the results, chief executive Ian Marchant said: SSE’s focus has always been, and remains, the delivery of sustainable long-term real dividend growth. We have consistently sought to achieve this by maintaining and investing in energy networks, adding to our generation portfolio, growing our energy supply business and developing further our presence in contracting, connections, gas storage and telecoms.

We will maintain this approach, and our emphasis on strong operational performance, for the rest of this financial year and beyond. The prospects for sustained real growth in the dividend remain excellent.