Scottish & Southern Energy has been praised by Energywatch for removing the extra charge it levied on all of its electricity pre-payment tariffs in England and Wales, but the watchdog has still raised concerns about the general level of profits being made by UK utilities following the Scottish firm's latest financial announcement.

Scottish & Southern Energy (SSE) said that the decision to remove the pre-pay and pay-as-you-go surcharge follows the recent request to energy suppliers by public advocate groups such as Child Poverty Action Group, Help the Aged and the National Consumer Council, in addition to Energywatch.

SSE says that the decision will help almost half a million of its customers to reduce their electricity bills by an average of around 6%, or around GBP23.00 a year, from 2007, compared with the average standard quarterly price.

However, Energywatch has renewed its call for a Competition Commission enquiry into the British energy market after SSE announced strong profits. The Scottish utility made a pre-tax profit of GBP455.4 million in the first half of the financial year, a 35.4% increase over H1 2005.

Energywatch director of campaign Adam Scorer said: The (UK) energy market is dominated by companies, like SSE, who generate electricity and supply it to customers. Energywatch questions whether this ‘vertical integration’ is good for competition and delivers the most affordable price for consumers. This is why energywatch has called for a Competition Commission enquiry into the GB energy market.