Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Electricity will be cheaper this winter

Electricity customers across the province are likely to see their bills slashed by up to 5%.

NIE Energy will announce its new price schedule on September 15, and this newspaper understands it will contain good news for consumers who have been hit hard over the past year.

Company spokeswoman Kerstie Forsyth would not be drawn on specific details, but said the outlook was promising.

“NIE Energy was able to cut electricity prices by over 10% earlier this year,” she said.

“It’s too early to put a figure on our forthcoming electricity price change, but the signs are hopeful.”

Details of lower electricity tariffs, which will come into effect on October 1, will be welcomed by consumers who should see the benefits in their bills from January, when winter begins to bite hardest.

Industry sources have told the Belfast Telegraph that, at the very least, householders can expect a price freeze, with the optimum scenario being a reduction of 5%.

The move follows news of falling prices on the wholesale gas market, which should benefit customers when the Utility Regulator approves energy costs for the coming winter.

Phoenix Gas is set to announce its new tariff on Thursday, with the expectation that householders will see prices reduced by up to 15%.

The situation is in stark contrast to a year ago when the Regulator highlighted a painful scenario as both gas and electricity prices jumped by almost 50%.

But already this year, Northern Irish consumers have seen electricity prices come down by 10.8%, while gas prices dropped by 22% in January.

The Regulator’s office last night said that final figures were still being calculated and no decision had yet been made.

However, the announcements are expected on September 10 and 15 for gas and electricity respectively.

“We are still at the stage of doing a final piece of scrutiny on the proposals,” a spokesman for the Utility Regulator said.

“Once that has been concluded the energy companies will be in a position to make an announcement.”

There is, however, bad news for home heating oil users, as prices — which have already increased by over 20% this year — are moving upwards.

OFTEC Ireland spokesman, David Blevings, said consumers can protect themselves from high fuel bills by filling their tanks ahead of winter.

“The predicted increase is mainly due to an expectation of global economic recovery which has caused volatility in oil markets, with forward crude prices moving higher,” he added

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