SSE’s Share Price Falls as Company Unveils Drop in Customer Numbers
iNVEZZ.com, Thursday, July 25th: SSE Plc (LON:SSE), previously known as Scottish and Southern Energy Plc, said it got off to an encouraging start to the year and was on track to deliver an above-inflation full year dividend increase, while unveiling a dip in customer numbers. SSE’s share price declined less than one percent in early morning trading in London today.
**SSE’s Customer Numbers Decline**
In its interim management statement published today, the British utility said that it remained on course to deliver a full year dividend increase for the 2013/14 financial year, greater than RPI inflation, and to deliver above-inflation dividend increases in the years after that.
The utility however reported that the number of electricity and gas customer accounts in markets in Great Britain and Ireland declined to 9.46 million in the three months ended June 30, 2013, down from 9.47 million in the same quarter of 2012. Average consumption of electricity by SSE’s household customers in Great Britain fell to 920kWh, compared with 940kWh in the prior-year period, whereas average consumption of gas was 96kWh, the same as in the previous year.
“SSE’s year has got off to an encouraging start,” said the utility’s chief executive Alistair Phillips-Davies in the company statement. “This means we are in a good position to focus on our key operational and investment priorities for the year.”
SSE forecasts total capital and investment expenditure of around £1.5 billion for 2013/14. The company reported that it had entered into a new £1.3 billion revolving credit facility which will run until July 2018 and will replace an existing £900 million committed facility which had been due to mature in August 2015.
**Grid Upgrade Proposal**
Yesterday, Bloomberg reported that the UK Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) was studying a proposal by SSE’s unit SHE Transmission to invest £205 million for upgrading power transmission links to Scotland to accommodate more renewable energy plants. The upgrades, due to be completed in 2016, involve building two subsea cables which will enforce the electricity link between the Kintyre peninsula in western Scotland and the rest of the region’s transmission system.
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SSE’s proposal supports the UK government’s efforts to add renewable energy generation shoring up power supplies while curbing pollution. The projects, often wind farms or hydro-plants in remote areas, require upgraded transmission infrastructure to deliver electricity to consumers. In its statement today SSE pointed out that the proposed reinforcement of the transmission network around the Kintyre peninsula was designed to deliver around 260MW of capacity.
SSE also said that it had continued to add to its capacity for generating electricity from renewable sources and reported that its Galloper wind farm off the Suffolk coast, a joint venture between the British utility and RWE npower renewables, had received development consent from the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change.
**SSE’s share price was 0.26 percent down at 1,620.75p in London as of 09:01 BST on 25 July 2013.**