Two of Northern Ireland’s energy suppliers are cutting prices for their customers by around 20% from April. Firmus Energy are making the 20% cut for customers outside Belfast, with a separate announcement due that covers the capital.
The largest gas supplier in Northern Ireland is following suit, with SSE Airtricity set to make a 19% cut. The reason for the price cut is a significant fall in wholesale prices.
Significant Reductions in Annual Bills
SSE services 168,000 households and businesses, with Firmus supplying a further 50,000. The Firmus customers can expect a reduction of about £135 on the average annual household bill. SSE Airtricity customers can expect the typical annual bill to drop by £108.
The Managing Director of Firmus Energy, Michael Scott, said: “This saving follows on from a previous reduction of 8.77% in October last year and means that natural gas is now almost 30% cheaper than last summer.”
Energy Regulation Department Expecting More Price Cuts
The Utility Regulator is the independent non-ministerial Government department that regulates Northern Ireland’s electricity, gas, water and sewerage industries. Their primary objective is to promote the short and long-term interests of consumers, similar to Ofgem in Britain.
Their Chief Executive, Jenny Pyper, has previously said of the wholesale price drops: “In relation to electricity, we have begun a review with Power NI regarding their domestic regulated tariffs and expect an announcement in the coming months. Given the falls being seen in wholesale prices, I would be hopeful of a positive outcome for electricity consumers before the summer.”
Utility Regulator Chief Executive Set to Retire
Chief Executive Pyper recently announced that she will be leaving her role at the Utility Regulator in the autumn. Ms Pyper has held the position for nearly seven years and has overseen improved performances from energy providers. During her stint as Chief Executive, enforcement activities secured financial penalties of £720,000. Pyper also ensured payment of charitable donations to fuel poverty charities of almost £750,000.
Ms Pyper said in a statement announcing her decision: “I have agreed to stay until the autumn to enable the appointment of my successor and to facilitate a short handover period. Until then I remain fully focused on progressing major regulatory price control reviews and other significant strategic challenges, including input to a new energy strategy for Northern Ireland.”
The Chairman of the Utility Regulator board, Bill Emery, was effusive in his praise of Pyper, saying: “During her seven years at the Utility Regulator she has transformed the organisation into a more outward looking and collaborative regulator while robustly protecting Northern Ireland’s energy and water consumers.
“The delivery of a new cross border wholesale electricity market worth over £2 billion, which went live in 2018, is testament to her inspiring leadership. She has also overseen the impressive growth in the natural gas network across Northern Ireland and the investment necessary to meet government renewable generation targets.”
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