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UPDATE 1-British Gas customers hit with 7 pct price rises

By Daniel Fineren and Rosalba O'Brien LONDON, Nov 12 (Reuters) - British Gas is to raise its domestic gas and electricity prices by an average of 7 percent from Dec. 10, Britain's biggest energy supplier said on Friday. The hike, which reverses a 7-percent cut in gas bills announced in February, will hit around 8 million customers on standard and variable tariffs, the Centrica-owned company said. "We know that rising energy prices come at a difficult time for many in Britain," British Gas Managing Director, Phil Bentley, said. "That's why we are not raising prices for our vulnerable customers, such as the poorest pensioners, until after this winter." British Gas blamed rising wholesale gas prices and associated costs for the increases. Wholesale UK gas prices rose by more than any other major commodity in the first half of 2010 and rose by more than a third from January to November. EDF Energy said on Tuesday it will not raise gas or electricity prices for winter, with standard tariffs fixed until at least March 2011, but Scottish & Southern Energy said last month it will hike household gas prices by 9.4 percent this winter. The other big utilities in Britain -- RWE npower, E.ON UK, and Iberdrola's Scottish Power -- have not yet announced any changes to their standard prices for this winter. ((London Equities Newsroom; +44 20 7542 7717)) (For more news, please click here) COPYRIGHT Copyright Thomson Reuters 2010. All rights reserved.

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