Large businesses in Northern Ireland pay some of the highest electricity prices in Europe, new research has revealed.
Smaller companies and domestic users fare better in a continental comparison, with charges around the European Union (EU) average, data produced by the region`s Utility Regulator found.
The analysis by the regulator has been heralded as the first comprehensive comparative study of electric prices in Northern Ireland and the rest of Europe.
It found that for very small industrial and commercial consumers - representing around 70% of non domestic customers - bills were close to the EU average.
But for the remaining 30% of businesses, prices were "among the highest in Europe".
Utility Regulator chief executive Shane Lynch said: "Energy prices are the subject of much debate in Northern Ireland, and indeed throughout Europe.
"This is understandable, as these prices impact on important social and economic issues within every jurisdiction, for example on fuel poverty and industrial competitiveness.
"Several stakeholders have asked us about comparisons between electricity prices in Northern Ireland and other parts of Europe.
"It is important that there is transparency on energy pricing and we therefore made a commitment to collate and publish such data. The data will also be a useful basis for framing discussion around factors affecting energy prices going forward.
"Clearly, aspects of the data require some discussion, not least of which is the finding which shows that larger electricity users are paying nearly the highest prices in Europe."