Centrica, the firm that owns British Gas, today says it's highly likely the company will put prices up. Consumers should urgently consider switching and fixing their energy deals.

Centrica today indicated in both its company interim report and at a Consumer Focus conference, that gas and electricity price rises "in the new few weeks" were almost certain.

  • Interim report hint: In a Centrica interim report released today, the company stated: "Group earnings for the first half of 2011 are expected to be lower than in 2010", due to wholesale costs.
  • However it went on to add, that: "full year earnings are expected to show year on year growth, subject to the usual variables, particularly retail margin recovery...", with "margin recovery" essentially meaning prices will most likely go up to cover rising wholesale costs.

  • Energy Select Committee hint: Ian Peters, Managing Director Energy, today said at the Energy and Climate Change Committee, that: "Unless there is a fundamental shift in the way the commodity markets are going to play out in the next few weeks then on the balance of probability, we will reluctantly put the price up. I’m not going to get drawn into precisely when or how." (Watch what he said on Parliament TV - 15 mins in).

Today's hints follow predictions the remaining Big Six energy firms will hike prices following Scottish Power's lead which upped its own rates a few weeks ago (see Scottish Power to hike energy prices news story).

Since the Scottish Power announcement, data from the energy price comparison site uSwitch shows consumers have rushed to fix their energy price, with 59% of those switching now choosing a fixed price energy tariff.

MoneySavingExpert.com creator Martin Lewis says: "Whether it's fair or not, at least British Gas has been pretty transparent on this. It put in its corporate report a couple of months ago that it thought it was undercharging compared to wholesale rates. Now we hear it'll possibly be upping prices in accordance with this.

"If I were a gambling man, I'd say the fact it's making predictions means it's pretty sure it's happening.

"For anyone worried about price rises, it's worth checking out the cheapest fixed tariffs, as a lot of people can save £150 a year and lock-in so they're not hit by further price hikes."