Power NI announces bill reduction

Power NI's tariff cut
Power NI's tariff cut

Northern Ireland’s main electricity supplier has cut bills by a tenth for all householders and small businesses after falls in wholesale gas prices.

A typical domestic customer will save over £50 and a firm £200 a year from April 1, Power NI said, in a return to pre-2008 prices.

Major energy suppliers have been under intense pressure from politicians and consumer groups to respond more quickly to the reductions in global prices of oil and gas.

Power NI managing director Stephen McCully said: “We promised that we would always look for ways to reduce prices and save our customers money. I’m happy to say that we can now deliver lower prices.

“This means more money in the pockets of householders and, with business and farms also seeing a similar price reduction, it’s good news all round.”

Wholesale gas prices have fallen sharply in recent months following a large drop in oil prices.

Power NI - which has around 588,000 customers - announced a cut in prices of 9.2%, equating to a saving of £53 in the average household bill.

Mr McCully added: “We have been able to take advantage of this opportunity and initiated a process with our regulator to implement an early price review.”

The Competition and Markets Authority in Great Britain has launched an inquiry into how the energy industry operates to see if any features of this market restrict competition and, if so, what action might be taken to remedy them.

It is due to publish a final report by the end of the year.

In Northern Ireland the Utility Regulator agrees price controls with suppliers.

Power NI serves 70% of the market, estimated at 847,000, including 551,000 home and 37,000 business and farming customers.

Aodhan O’ Donnell, interim chief executive of the Consumer Council in Northern Ireland, said: “We are calling on other electricity and gas companies to step up to the mark, reduce their prices and open the way for a much more competitive local energy market.”

“Consumers being active in the market will motivate companies to work harder to attract or retain their customers, provide better customer service and offer competitive deals.”

The Council works closely with the regulator to ensure Power NI passes reductions in wholesale prices on to consumers.

The tariff reduction will affect Power NI’s domestic customers and non-domestic customers with an annual consumption less than 150 mwh.

Gas is used to generate 57% of electricity in the market in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and generation costs account for 60% of the price Power NI charges to consumers, the Consumer Council said.

In the Republic, SSE Airtricity has announced a reduction in electricity prices of 2% and gas prices of 4%.

The Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association (NIIRTA) chief executive Glyn Roberts said: “Energy costs are a top concern for our members, given many of them have refrigeration in their stores and so are pleased that this price reduction will bring bills down to 2008 prices.”