Firmus energy is to increase gas tariffs by 17.75% in several towns and villages across Northern Ireland that will come into effect from April 1, the Belfast Telegraph can exclusively reveal.
In documents leaked to this news organisation, the firm explained that the price hike will affect the Ten Towns Network area.
The change will see an average household bill rising by £1.43 per week, bringing prices broadly back to summer 2020 levels.
The Ten Towns Network area includes Antrim, Armagh, Ballymena, Ballymoney, Banbridge, Coleraine, Craigavon — including Lurgan and Portadown — Limavady, Londonderry, Newry and more than 25 other towns and villages in the surrounding areas.
Customers in the greater Belfast area and the West Network area covering Strabane, Omagh, Cookstown, Dungannon, Enniskillen and Derrylin, will not be impacted.
Firmus energy, which supplies gas to around 100,000 people in Northern Ireland, explained that the extra costs are due to an increase in global wholesale gas prices.
It added that the hike follows on from three price reductions totalling 37% over the last 18 months, which led to gas bills being at an historic low for its customers.
The £1.43 per week hike is based on a typical firmus energy network pay as you go customer, while credit customers’ bills will increase by £1.50 per week.
Managing director of firmus energy, Michael Scott, said: “We know that price stability is important for our customers but the increase of wholesale natural gas costs on the global market, which are beyond our control, have unfortunately made this increase inevitable.
“During 2020 the price of wholesale gas decreased dramatically on the world markets, leading to firmus energy being able to offer our lowest ever tariffs.
“Today’s announcement, while unwelcome, is a sign of the market readjusting after 2020 to more standard levels.
“Any increase is never welcome news and we recognise this comes at a particularly difficult time for many.
“We want to assure our customers that we will continue to monitor and review our tariffs to ensure customers are getting the best prices possible.
“There is a clear ambition to reduce Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions in Northern Ireland. Every home converting from oil to natural gas benefits from an immediate CO2 reduction of 48%.”
The Utility Regulator has scrutinised firmus energy’s actual costs to supply gas to homes and businesses in the Ten Town Network area.
Firmus energy stated that the price rise follows the ongoing tariff review process that is being carried out by the company and the Utility Regulator, in consultation with the Department for the Economy and the Consumer Council for Northern Ireland.
Firmus energy announced a 12.5% price cut to bills in September and said the reduction meant it was charging the lowest price for gas since 2011, with customers saving £63 per year.
That followed a 12% reduction to its gas tariffs in the greater Belfast network area in March 2020, while the Ten Towns Network benefited from a 21% price slash.
Firms energy customers seeking advice on their natural gas bills or direct debit payments can contact their customer services team on 0330 024 9000.