US setback takes toll on profits at Scot Power

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ScottishPower's quarterly performance was depressed by trading conditions at its American business.

First quarter pre-tax profits were £170m, virtually unchanged from £171m last year. A drop in profits at PacifiCorp, the US operation, from £169m to £117m, offset gains in the company's UK businesses. Unfavourable weather and the loss of some of PacifiCorp's generating capacity for part of the period - forcing it to buy more expensive electricity from others - were blamed for the fall.

The improved result in the UK consumer division, where operating profits grew from £2m to £24m, provoked a call from energywatch, a consumer advocate, for the company to "share success with customers". In particular, energywatch said it wanted to see prices for Scottish customers reduced.

John Hanlon, the chairman of energywatch Scotland, said: "ScottishPower charges its local loyal customers in Scotland around £434 a year for an average family home's electricity while it charges the same family in Nottingham £328, in Newcastle £343, in Birmingham £351 and in Leeds £353."

Separately, Ofgem, the energy regulator, sanctioned £360m worth of investment in Scotland's transmission system . The money would "unlock potential of Scottish renewables" generation, it said.