Assembly demands affordable energy
Fair and affordable energy prices are essential in Northern Ireland, the Assembly has said.
It called on enterprise minister Arlene Foster to co-operate with utility regulator Shane Lynch to help people suffering from high costs.
One third of elderly clients in a Citizens Advice Bureau survey have had to make the choice between heating and other essential items such as food, with the cost of gas, electricity and coal rising.
Sinn Fein energy spokesperson Phil Flanagan said: "While the average price for 900 litres of home heating oil is £531.11, the basic rate of state pension is £102. The maths is very easy - it costs pensioners over five weeks' pension for one tank of oil. That is unacceptable."
The amended motion was that the Assembly recognises the severe financial pressure on families and small businesses from the recent increase in energy prices and calls on the Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment to liaise with the Utility Regulator to ensure fair and affordable pricing for energy. It was passed unanimously.
One of Northern Ireland's two main gas suppliers is to raise its prices in Greater Belfast by more than a third.
Firmus Energy has ended its summer price freeze and will increase tariffs by more than 35% from October 1. Power NI, formerly known as NIE Energy, intends to increase the cost of electricity by 18.6% from October 1.
It means the average annual household electricity bill will rise by more than £90.
The Northern Ireland Consumer Council said it was a "massive blow".
Ulster Unionist Michael Copeland said: "Today we are facing a very real danger that people will die because of what we elect not to do in this chamber and I consider this a matter of some shame."