Lower bills for Northern Ireland as SSE Airtricity cuts gas and power prices
Around a third of Northern Ireland homes and small businesses will see lower energy bills thanks to a price drop by one of the region's largest suppliers.
Northern Ireland's second largest home energy provider, SSE Airtricity, announced it would be reducing its gas and electricity prices by around 10%.
The company said it expected the move would save householders over £100 annually.
The cuts will apply to SSE Airtricity's 345,000 home and small business customers, who make up around one-third of the energy market here.
Earlier this month Power NI said electric bills for its 500,000 domestic customers would fall by 10.3% from April.
It said the move was made possible by a steady fall in the price of wholesale gas, the main fuel used in electricity generation.
The Utility Regulator said the price for natural gas was at its lowest since 2009.
The price drop is the latest in a number made by electricity companies in Northern Ireland.
SSE Airtricity's natural gas price is regulated annually under the natural gas price control review process.
Any changes to those prices requires the regulator's approval.
The cut follows the company's annual review of its natural gas costs, carried out in consultation with the Utility Regulator, the Department of Enterprise and the Consumer Council of Northern Ireland.
Utility Regulator chief executive Jenny Pyper explained that falling wholesale gas prices had caused the drop in power prices.
She said: "Northern Ireland has also seen the largest decreases to date of gas and electricity prices by all suppliers in the UK and Republic of Ireland."
The announcement marks the third successive energy price cut by the power company in the space of just over 12 months. The 10.2% cut to gas prices for home and small business customers will take effect on April 1.
The 10.3% cut to electricity prices will take effect from June 1.
Enterprise Minister Jonathan Bell said gas prices here were now among the lowest in the European Union.
"The revised SSE Airtricity prices will be around 23% lower than standard gas prices in Great Britain, and some 22% lower than standard gas prices in the Republic of Ireland," Mr Bell added.
Richard Williams, head of energy at the Consumer Council, said: "This is great news. The Consumer Council now wants to see the other gas and electricity companies compete for customers by bringing their prices down.
"Consumers consistently tell us energy bills are their biggest concern."
The savings calculated by SSE Airtricity are based on a household energy customer on standard 24hr credit meter tariffs with an annual consumption of 12,500 kWh for natural gas and 3,200 kWh for electricity.