Belfast Telegraph

Power NI hit by drop in profits as 28,000 customers join rivals

By John Mulgrew

Power NI has suffered a fall in profits after losing almost 30,000 customers in the space of one year.

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The company, which is part of Viridian plc and Northern Ireland's biggest supplier of electricity, saw operating profits fall from £37.3m to £33.1m in the year to March 31, 2017.

Overall, revenue dropped from £488.5m to £445.8m.

Power NI chief Stephen McCully said the fall in sales was "primarily due to the reduction in residential and non residential customer numbers", along with a reduction in consumption of electricity.

Its customer numbers fell from 545,000 to 517,000 in the last year.

The majority of that fall was among residential customers.

And while it remains the largest supplier in the region, its market share of the residential sector here has fallen from 63% to 58%.

Power NI said that during the year it received four complaints, which were referred on to the Consumer Council.

"The number of complaints continues to compare favourably with best practice in Great Britain and represents best practice in the Northern Ireland residential electricity supply market," it said.

Speaking about the market here, the latest accounts report: "The main competitors in the electricity supply markets in Northern Ireland are SSE Airtricity, Electric Ireland, Budget Energy and Go Power.

"Certain of the company's competitors may be able to offer lower prices or incentives that may attract customers away from the company, thereby reducing its market share, which in turn, may have a material adverse effect on margins achieved."

The accounts also state that following the administration of supplier Open Electric Ltd all of its 1,100 customers were transferred across to Power NI.

Earlier this year Power NI announced it was increasing electricity prices by 5.6%.

The Consumer Council said the announcement was "unwelcome but justified".

Power NI put the price rise down to increases in the cost of coal and gas, both used by power stations to generate supply.

Parent company Viridian has around 20% of the domestic electricity market Ireland-wide.

The latest pre-tax profits at Viridian, which owns Energia in the Republic, soared from £50.4m to £68.6m in the year to March 31.

Rising customer numbers in the Republic helped lead to the profit rise.

Belfast Telegraph