Northern Ireland has been left at the mercy of Russia and the Middle East for its energy supply, leaving it vulnerable to an energy crisis, the Green Party has warned.
The party described Northern Ireland's "over-dependence" on fossil fuels as stupid, as Phoenix Natural Gas announced increases in gas bills and NIE Energy warned that another price hike could be on the cards.
Green Party MLA Brian Wilson criticised Energy Minister Nigel Dodds's " shortsightedness" in ending the Reconnect grants that helped fund domestic renewable energy systems.
He said: "With the average bill expected to go up by £130, the number of people facing fuel poverty will increase and this situation will not improve as prices for fossil fuels are being forced up, by growing demand in India and China.
"Northern Ireland is now vulnerable — we are at the mercy of Russia and the Middle East for our energy supply."
Meanwhile, the Ulster Farmers Union went to Stormont yesterday to present its alternative plan for ways of generating electricity from the land.
Northern Ireland is importing 96% of its energy needs, the highest in the European Union, and yet no other country has more potential to produce alternative energy on its farms, the union said.
The UFU called on departments to work more effectively together to assist alternative land uses.