Energy giant Centrica, owners of British Gas, said its 2011 overall earnings ‘may be marginally lower’ than current market expectations.

However, it is still due to announce vast profits when it releases its 2011 preliminary results, which are due on February 23 next year.

The company said, in its Interim Management Statement released today (November 17), that wholesale gas costs are currently 26% higher this winter than last due cost rises and the country’s increasing dependence on imports.

Average residential gas consumption, across the company’s 15.9m customers, is now 17% lower than for the same period in 2010 and average residential electricity consumption is 3% lower.

Business customers have also been affected by the mild weather, which together with the impact of weak economic conditions, led to a 15% fall in gas use and a 12% fall for electricity.

Centrica also said it boosted its nuclear power output for the first ten months of the year totalling 9.5TWh 20% higher than the same period last year.

Luke Walsh

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