By Max Clarke

Centrica, British Gas’ parent company, posted its highest ever profits of £1.9 billion for 2010. Bolstered by extreme low temperatures throughout the winter, the surge in profits has generated anger from consumers following approximate 7% hike in gas and electricity prices.

The energy giant has recently signed a £2 billion deal with Qatargas, the state owned Gas Company of the world’s third largest gas producing nation, that will see Centrica supplying half of the UK’s gas demands, likely to further boost profits.
In response to Centrica's profits announcement, Mike O'Connor CBE, Chief Executive of Consumer Focus, said:

'We need successful energy companies but consumers may look at today's profits and at recent prices rises and question how one justifies the other.

'The issue is not about one company or one year's profit or loss but it is about whether the energy market is working properly and Ofgem's review1 must try to answer this question once and for all. If the regulator identifies systemic weaknesses in the energy market then it should seriously consider whether a Competition Commission investigation is needed.

'British Gas is the only major UK energy supplier that breaks down its results in any great detail. As such it acts as a lightning rod for the industry. There is a compelling case for much more transparency across the market."