Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Airtricity freezes gas prices for its Northern Ireland customers

One of Northern Ireland’s main gas suppliers is to freeze prices for its customers as winter approaches.

Airtricity‘s parent company, Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE), has already confirmed price hikes in other parts of the UK and the Republic — but customers in Northern Ireland will be spared.

With colder weather starting to bite, a tariff freeze will be welcomed by the firm’s 140,000 domestic and business clients here.

An industry source said that having entered the market in Northern Ireland three months ago, Airtricity would be reluctant to rock the boat by hiking prices almost immediately

“They just started trading here in July so they aren’t going to increase prices by up to 10% at this early stage,” the insider told the Belfast Telegraph.

“It’s clear that they’ve decided to treat Northern Ireland as a loss leader until they are firmly established as a credible gas supplier.”

The source added: “They’re also not shouting about their decision to keep prices at the same level here while raising them in the rest of the UK and Ireland in case that gets their other customers’ backs up.”

A spokesman for Airtricity last night said that an official announcement on pricing would follow in due course.

“We expect to announce the decision we have come to following our recent price review before the end of this week,” he said.

Last week Airtricity said it would be increasing the price of its domestic gas and electricity in the Republic by 8.5% and 4.7% respectively.

The move, which takes effect from October 15, will affect almost half-a-million customers there, adding €120 (£96) to average annual fuel bills.

Last month SSE, the UK’s second largest energy firm, said it would increase prices in Britain by 9%, affecting eight million gas and electricity customers.

The energy giant said the hike will add another £8.53 a month on to the typical monthly direct debit, ‘dual fuel’ customer — taking their average annual bill to £1,274.

Meanwhile, Power NI, which supplies electricity to more than three-quarters of homes in Northern Ireland, recently said it would cut power bills by 14% from October 1 because of lower coal, carbon and gas prices.

The Belfast Telegraph understands Airtricity may also cut electricity prices in Northern Ireland.

Background

Around 135,000 Phoenix Supply gas customers automatically transferred over to Airtricity three months ago following a £19m takeover deal. Around 85% of these were domestic properties. As a result, Airtricity became the first firm in Northern Ireland to offer a ‘dual fuel’ service for domestic electricity and gas. Householders outside the greater Belfast area can’t switch until 2015.

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