Scottish Power owner Iberdrola has unveiled plans to invest almost €4 billion (£3.3 billion) in the UK as it looks to offset headwinds both here and in its domestic business in Spain.
The company, which has been drawn into the bitter political debate over energy prices, said the money will be spent on upgrading power networks and developing renewable energy sources.
It also plans to spend billions in Latin America and the US, while Spain will only get 15 per cent of the total €9.6 billion being spent.
Like its rivals, Scottish Power has been criticised for the tariffs it charges customers and recently watered down plans to raise energy bills in the UK by an inflation-busting 8.6 per cent, following industrywide talks with Ministers.
Despite the controversy, it added 100,000 customers last year, taking its total to 5.79 million across England, Scotland and Wales. The company claimed that more needed to be done across the EU to simplify energy policy.
Keith Anderson, head of Iberdrola’s UK business, said: “In the US, the bills customers receive are bills for the energy they use. In the EU, we have become cash collectors — costs have risen because of green taxes and levies. It’s causing a lot of confusion.”
Overall, Iberdrola saw its net profits fall 7 per cent to €2.57 billion after it was hit by levies of €1.577 billion, of which €1 billion came from Spain.
The company still said that it hoped to reduce its net debt by €1.8 billion to €25 billion by 2016 and would divest €500 million of assets.
Last year, it agreed to sell 50 per cent stake in British nuclear consortium NuGen to Japan’s Toshiba for €102 million.
On the subject of Scottish independence, Anderson denied reports that the group was drawing up plans to sell of its UK business in the event of a Yes vote this September.