firmus energy natural gas tariffs to rise next month

The Ten Towns rise is acceptable, while in the unregulated Greater Belfast area consumers are free to shop around
The Ten Towns rise is acceptable, while in the unregulated Greater Belfast area consumers are free to shop around

The energy regulator has urged customers to make sure they are on the most advantageous deal for gas as firmus energy today announces a rise in tariffs in bot its supply areas.

The company is hiking rates in both the Ten Towns area and Greater Belfast will be rising by 6.8% and 8.8% respectively next month.

The company says the price increase means an average Ten Towns household bill will rise by £3.15 per month, 73p per week, and a typical average household bill in Greater Belfast will rise by £3.63 per month, equivalent to 84p per week. The rises affect around 85,000 consumers in both areas.

“We work hard to keep our tariffs as low as possible, to offer price stability for customers and give them confidence in natural gas,” said firmus managing director Michael Scott.

“The decision to raise our tariffs is regrettable and never easy, however in this instance the cost of bringing natural gas to our customers has increased and our price rise has been unavoidable.”

“Our pricing team has engaged extensively with the Utility Regulator, the Department for the Economy and the Consumer Council for Northern Ireland in relation to our regulated tariff in the Ten Towns licensed area.

“We keep our tariffs under continual review to ensure we are bringing the best possible prices to our customers,”

The increase which affects both domestic consumer and small businesses follows the decision by SSE Airtricity last week to hike its tariff in the Greater Belfast areas where it competes with firmus by 7.8%.

Commenting on the Ten Towns area where the increase must achieve the regulator’s approval, Kevin Shiels, the director of retail and consumer protection said: “We understand that price increases are not welcome and have thoroughly scrutinised firmus energy’s actual costs to supply gas to homes and businesses in the Ten Towns area.

“There are a number of reasons for this increase. Our regulation requires firmus energy to return to customers any additional revenue (known as over recovery) that they make during the previous tariff period. However, if firmus energy spent more on gas than they earned in revenue (known as under recovery), they can get this back from customers in the next tariff period.”

Last year, he said an over recovery element had the effect of reducing the tariff from what it would otherwise have been.

“However, for this tariff period, there is an under recovery, which means that instead of a reduction applied, this element has actually increased. This explains around half of this year’s increase.

“The remaining portion of the increase is due to the increase in international energy costs, which make up a significant portion of your bills, and network charges which have also risen in line with inflation.

Commenting on the firmus energy Greater Belfast price increase Mr Sheils said:

“Following last week’s announcement made by SSE Airtricity Gas Supply NI to increase their gas prices in the Greater Belfast area by 7.8%, we understand that firmus energy are also increasing their gas prices in the Greater Belfast area by 8.8%.

“We would encourage consumers to shop around to make sure they are getting the best deal for their gas supply.”