Company signs up first electricity customer

FIRMUS energy has signed up Ballymena soft drinks manufacturer Norbev as its first electricity customer, the company said yesterday.

The natural gas supplier for the greater part of the Province and to commercial clients in Belfast announced earlier this year it had been awarded an electricity licence and that it was able to offer both utilities to large industrial and commercial businesses across the Province.

Welcoming the development, general manager Mark Prentice said expansion and diversification were key goals for the firm.

“Our parent company BGE is currently in the process of building a new power station which will bring further advantages to consumers in addition to those generated by our combined buying power, yet our customers still have all the benefits of dealing with a local company.

“Norbev will see substantial costs savings as a result of this move and this will help make them more economically viable in a very competitive global market. Their team will be able to budget ahead with confidence as they now know what their energy costs will be for the next two years.”

Firmus’ entry into the market would, he added, mean increased competition at a crucial time in economic terms.

“The current economic climate means that every company is looking for a competitive edge and we believe that our proposition can give them just that.”

The firm has already connected more than 90 per cent of the large industrial and commercial companies in 10 towns along the North-West and South-North pipelines to natural gas.

Norbev has a 50,000 sq ft production facility and employs more than 80 people to service customers across the UK, Republic of Ireland and France.

Managing director David Halliday said the two companies had already done business together.

“We made the switch to natural gas in 2006 and have found it to be a much more economical and convenient option than oil.

“Our factory includes heavy-duty steam machinery which is powered by natural gas and other industrial machinery which uses electricity.

“The contracts with firmus energy are now fixed for the next two years and, particularly in the current market, this is a very important consideration which takes the guesswork out of budgeting for our energy requirements.”