Electricity firm plans NI launch next year
Electricity customers in Northern Ireland are set to be offered more choice after another major supplier signalled its long-term commitment to the household market.
The Republic's largest service provider ESB Electric Ireland said it hopes to launch a major roll-out in the residential sector north of the border in the middle of next year.
The rebranded company also confirmed its intention to run a limited exploratory foray into the market before the end of this year as part of its preparations for the main launch.
ESB Electric Ireland, which supplies the residential and business markets in the Republic, has been supplying business customers in Northern Ireland for 10 years.
"The missing link is the residential market in Northern Ireland," said ESB Electric Ireland managing director Susan Kinane.
"We are keen to get into the market before the end of the year on a pilot basis."
The supplier's entry into the domestic market would present another competitor for Power NI (formerly NIE Energy) and fellow Republic of Ireland company Airtricity.
Ms Kinane said there were a number of issues to resolve before the main launch next year.
These include efforts to harmonise supply technologies on both sides of the border and ESB Electric Ireland familiarising itself with the requirements of keypad customers - a service currently not offered south of the border.
But she said she could not envisage any problem that would prevent a long-term roll-out next year.
The senior executive said officials were still in the process of establishing what prices would be offered to Northern Ireland customers. But she acknowledged that it would be difficult to attract new customers without setting tariffs below their competitors' rates.
ESB Electric Ireland has just secured a gas supply contract in Northern Ireland and is hoping to secure customers in the business market.
The number of years ESB has been supplying business customers here