One of UK's big six energy supplier, SSE, has issued a profit warning after a sharp drop in customer numbers.
The provider revealed that 160,000 households and businesses had closed their accounts in the last three months of 2018 leaving them £60 million out of pocket.
SSE has cited intense competition as the cause, as well as a reduced profit forecast for 2019 after the EU Court of Justice suspended an industry-wide scheme that ensures the UK has enough power supplies when demand is high.
The company also warned earnings would be below previous forecasts.
It now expects to deliver earnings per share of around 64-69p for the year to the end of March, against previous forecasts of 70-75p.
Large utility companies have been buffeted by rising wholesale prices and a new default energy tariff price cap which they complained was set too low.
Shortly after the cap was introduced, energy regulator Ofgem announced it would be raised.
SSE blamed the cap and the collapse of its proposed merger with German supplier Npower for the downturn.
Chairman Richard Gillingwater said: “Although our half-year results are slightly ahead of the position we set out in September, they fall well short of what we hoped to achieve at the start of the year. This is disappointing and regrettable but important changes are now being made to the way SSE manages its exposure to energy commodities.
“The commercial terms of the proposed combination of SSE Energy Services and npower are the subject of ongoing discussions and creating a new independent energy supplier remains our objective. The Board believes that the best future for SSE Energy Services, including its customers and employees, lies outside the SSE group.”