More gloom ahead for consumers as SSE hikes energy prices
Northern Ireland consumers face a winter of rising energy costs after a third supplier hiked electricity tariffs by nearly 20% as well as becoming the first to increase the price of gas.
SSE Airtricity, our largest provider of natural gas and the second largest supplier of electricity, said it would be increasing the cost of electricity to its 173,272 domestic customers by 18.2%.
Natural gas prices for its 152,220 home and small business customers are set to increase by 10.9%, an increase of £56 a year, bringing the average bill to £576.
SSE Airtricity said the electricity increase would push bills up by £86 a year for the average customer, bringing the typical bill to £561.
It comes after Electric Ireland last month announced its electricity prices would be going up by 13.3%, and Power NI - the dominant supplier of electricity in Northern Ireland - announced it would be putting up its prices by 14%.
Price rises for all three will come into effect from the start of October.
SSE Airtricity has blamed the rises on rising costs on "global markets and rising networks charges".
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It is the first gas supplier in Northern Ireland to announce price rises.
David Manning, director of home energy at SSE Airtricity, said: "We're disappointed we have to announce increases in our gas and electricity prices at this time.
"Unfortunately this decision is unavoidable due to the sustained increases in wholesale fuel and transportation costs over the last 12 months.
"However, we will continue to focus on providing our customers with the value, outstanding service and low-carbon energy they expect from us, and when we can pass on any future savings, we will."
John French, chief executive of the Consumer Council, called on SSE to explain why its power increase of 18.2% was so much higher than that imposed by Power NI.
"With energy costs a top concern for households, we would encourage all consumers to take control of their energy bills and to regularly check and compare tariffs to see if they could get a better deal," he said.
"Switching payment, changing billing method or implementing simple energy efficiency measures, can also help save money."