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Centrica seeks £6m business rate refund

CENTRICA is seeking a £6m business rates refund on its power plants from HM Revenue and Customs after launching a legal battle.

The British Gas owner is arguing the rates have been set too high since 2005 given the power plants have been loss-making for much of that time, the Telegraph reports.

Energy companies have faced strong criticism over rising household bills as a result of increasing commodity costs and pressure on margins. British Gas’ bills are set to rise 9.2% from this coming weekend.

Centrica has revealed its six operational gas-fired power plants were likely to face losses of £130m this year. It mothballed two other gas plants last year, and experts warn more could close, worsening the risk of power shortages.

The legal dispute stems from the way in which the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) valued gas-fired power plants for business rates in 2005.

Owners of all 30 gas-fired power stations in England and Wales initially appealed against the valuations, according to tribunal documents, but 17 have since reached agreement with the tax authorities.

“Reducing costs in CCGTs [combined cycle gas turbines] in all areas – including business rates – is clearly helpful,” said Nick Luff, Centrica’s finance director.

The dispute will be determined at a tribunal next summer.

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