Belfast Telegraph

Power NI's competitors urged to follow its lead and slash energy prices

By Claire McNeilly

Electricity prices should be reduced for all consumers in Northern Ireland this autumn, the chair of a Stormont committee has said.

Alban Maginness was speaking after major player Power NI announced it was slashing 14.1% off tariffs for its customers from October 1.

The move — 12 months after the company increased prices by 18.6% — means that average electricity bills will fall by £83 a year.

Rivals Airtricity and Budget Energy are in the process of “crunching numbers”, although both are expected to drop their prices too.

Mr Maginness, who heads up the Assembly’s Enterprise, Trade and Investment committee, called on both companies to outline their pricing policies.

“I certainly would encourage the other electricity suppliers to adjust their charges accordingly, and I would be hopeful that this will happen as soon as possible,” said Mr Maginness.

“This reduction is good news for consumers at a time when English companies are putting up their

prices, although we must remember that electricity prices here increased by 18.6% last year.

“That means there is still a 4% difference, so this price cut is not a complete improvement, but a step in the right direction.”

It means the average annual power consumption will cost consumers here £505 from October, down from £564, thanks to a 17% reduction on generation prices.

Neil Hewitt, Professor of Energy and Director of the Centre for Sustainable Technologies at the University of Ulster, said prices were falling here to reflect the wholesale cost of gas.

After 26 months of active competition in the energy market, Power NI has 675,000 domestic and business customers — around 84% of the market — with nearest rival Airtricity capturing 14%. Budget Energy serves the remaining 2%.

Background

Last year, Power NI, formerly NIE Energy, imposed a 18.6% hike on its domestic tariff, resulting in average bills increasing by £93. At the time the firm, Northern Ireland’s biggest household electricity supplier, said the rise was due to pressure on gas prices after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan and Middle East unrest.

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