Electric Ireland has announced a 30% increase on electricity bills, affecting around 103,000 customers in Northern Ireland.
The price hike will start from May 1 and equates to an increase of approximately £4.21 per week on an average residential electricity bill.
The firm said its rise in price is due to “continued market volatility and unprecedented increases in wholesale energy costs”.
The Consumer Council in NI said that typical credit meter and keypad (pay-as-you-go) customers here will see their bills rise by around £219 per year.
“This news will adversely impact all Electric Ireland customers who are already experiencing financial pressures on their household budget especially with the cost of living crisis that we are experiencing,” added Raymond Gormley, the organisation’s head of energy policy.
“Consumers who are struggling with their energy bills should contact their supplier directly for help and information. We would encourage all consumers to think about ways they can reduce their energy costs. Switching payment option, changing billing method or switching supplier can save some money.
“The Consumer Council will continue to work with all involved in the energy industry including supply companies and the Utility Regulator to develop sustainable solutions to support the ever growing number of people in need as the problem of high energy prices will likely be with us for the foreseeable future.”
On Wednesday, Derek Hynes, Head of Residential Markets at Electric Ireland commented: “With world events continuing to impact on global wholesale energy prices, we have unfortunately been forced today to announce a price increase for residential customers.
“We would like to assure our customers we will continue to work and engage with you during this uncertain time.”
Electric Ireland has confirmed that as part of their licensing agreement, there will be no exit fee applied to customers who switch to another supplier before April 30 2022.
The move had been expected and follows price increases from other energy suppliers.
It comes as the war in Ukraine has only worsened soaring energy costs, which have hit cash-strapped consumers hard amid growing concerns about rising inflation and the cost of living.
Electric Ireland said that for customers in the Republic, the price increase will mean an extra 24.80 euro per month on the average electricity bill and an extra 18.35 euro on gas costs per month.
Marguerite Sayers, the executive director of Electric Ireland, said: “We are acutely aware that the rising cost of living is causing difficulty for households across the country.
“Unfortunately, the unprecedented and sustained volatility of wholesale gas prices over the last 12 months means that we now need to increase our prices.
“We delayed the increase as long as we could in the hope that wholesale prices would drop back to early 2021 levels, but regrettably this has not happened.”
Ms Sayers said that she understood this would come as “unwelcome news”.
“Electric Ireland had the lowest cumulative price rises in the past 12 months,” she said.
“We continue to deliver the best value we can and will maintain one of the lowest standard rates in the market, even after this increase.
“We know that this is unwelcome news, but international gas prices are beyond our control and have a huge impact on our costs.
“We appreciate this is a challenging time and are committed to helping any of our customers who experience financial difficulty.
“As always, we encourage any Electric Ireland customer who has difficulty in paying their energy bill to engage with us and we will work with them to put in place a manageable payment plan.”
Consumers can also get in touch with the Consumer Council for free independent advice by calling Freephone 0800 121 6022 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Consumer Council’s website further has a free independent energy price comparison tool which empowers consumers to compare all electricity and gas tariffs across Northern Ireland in one place.