SCOTTISHPOWER has highlighted the benefit of windier weather as its renewables arms saw its underlying profits surge in the first quarter, though warmer conditions compared with last year dragged down earnings at its retail and generation operations.

The Spanish-owned utility reported earnings before tax, depreciation and amortisation of £166 million for quarter one, up 30 per cent on the same period last year. The result boosted by higher wind volumes and favourable market conditions.

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However, its liberalised division, which includes its retail arm, saw underlying profits drop by 67% to £44m. ScottishPower, owned by Spanish giant Iberdrola, put the decline down to comparisons with the first quarter of last year, when the weather was colder for longer periods.

It cited the impact on the liberalised business from the UK Government’s introduction of a price cap for customers on standard variable tariffs, and the sale of its conventional power generation portfolio to Drax for £702 million in October. That deal marked the conclusion of its transition from coal and gas to 100% renewable power.

The firm said customer numbers dropped by 50,000 in the first quarter to around 4.95 million.

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Keith Anderson, chief executive of ScottishPower, said: “The strong performance of renewables shows we are delivering what consumers want in access to reliable, clean, lower cost energy.

“Combined with sustained investment in our Networks business, as it completes vital upgrades essential to bringing on even more green power, we are firmly placed to drive forward the electrification of the UK’s economy where it matters most.”