Power NI's customer base shrinks as competition hits home
Competition in Northern Ireland's electricity market is heating up with a 5% fall in customer numbers at main supplier Power NI, it has emerged.
Financial statements for Viridian Group Investments Ltd, which owns Power NI - now vying with four other providers for domestic business in Northern Ireland - show customer numbers fell from 545,000 to 517,000 over the year to March 31 2017.
The drop, along with a fall in electricity prices in Northern Ireland, led to a 0.2% slump in overall sales at Viridian to £1.317bn.
Domestic customers here have a choice of five suppliers - Electric Ireland, Click Energy, Power NI, Budget Energy and SSE Airtricity.Provider Open Electric went into administration in December after around a year in business.
Power NI's home customers were down 5% from 510,000 to 483,000 while business customers were down 3% from 35,000 to 34,000.
But pre-tax profits at Viridian, which owns Energia in the Republic, soared from £50.4m to £68.6m in the year to March 31.
Rising customer numbers in the Republic helped lead to the profit rise.
According to the Sunday Busienss Post, Ian Thom, Viridian chief executive, said the energy market was increasingly competitive, with customers switching provider regularly.
Aodhan O'Donnell, owner of price comparison website Powertoswitch, said: "More people switching shows a growing confidence in the market and a realisation that better deals are available.
"Even with the loss of Open Electric there are five active suppliers for domestic consumers and close to 30 deals to choose from. And it pays to switch."
He said switching electricity providers through powertoswitch.co.uk could save customers up to £150 a year.