Firms urged to get the best energy deal possible
Energy Minister Arlene Foster welcomed greater competition in the business gas and electricity markets during a speech yesterday.
At the annual CBI Northern Ireland Energy Forum, the minister encouraged companies to obtain their energy supply on the best possible terms.
She said: "I welcome the extension of the competitive market which has been in place for a number of years for larger business users of electricity, and I believe that the greater transparency provided by the Single Electricity Market has contributed to new suppliers entering the respective retail electricity markets.
"It is of course important for businesses to ensure they obtain the best possible terms for their energy supply, and I know that the Utility Regulator and Manufacturing NI have produced guidance on this, which I would encourage companies to use."
She told the forum that "significant progress" had been made 18 months into implementation of the Strategic Energy Framework.
"It contains new and challenging renewable energy targets, including 40% renewable electricity and 10% renewable heat by 2020 and also recognises that these will require substantial investment over the next decade.
"However, many challenges still remain ahead, not least due to the fact that Northern Ireland is such a small region and, as energy is a world market issue, this leaves us subject to whatever fluctuations occur."
The threat of rising prices made the drive for renewables "even more important", she added.