NI energy firms Power NI and SSE Airtricity announce price cuts but bills will actually go up
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Power NI announced a 7.1 per cent electricity price decrease, due to a fall in wholesale market costs. Meanwhile, SSE Airtricity, Northern Ireland’s largest provider of natural gas, confirmed it will reduce gas prices by 12.2 per cent.
However, the price cuts coincide with the end of the UK Government’s Energy Price Guarantee, meaning that consumer bills are due to increase rather than fall.
The Consumer Council said that when both factors are applied, the typical standard Power NI credit bill will increase by around £49 and Power NI customers with a prepayment meter will see their costs increase by around £48 a year.
Despite the announcement of 12.2% to its gas tariff effective from July 1, SSE Airtricity gas customers’ bills will increase by around £134 and customers with a prepayment meter will see their costs increase by around £136 a year.
Peter McClenaghan, Director of Infrastructure and Sustainability at the Consumer Council said: “These tariff decreases are welcome news as they indicate a downward trend in wholesale energy prices. However, as the Government subsidy to our bills, the Energy Price Guarantee, is being reduced to zero from July, customers will actually see their bills increase.
"This strange situation is also likely to lead the other local energy suppliers to change their tariffs in the coming days and weeks. This means it is important that consumers consider whether their current tariff remains competitive.
"The Consumer Council’s free online Energy Price Comparison Tool enables consumers to compare all available tariffs. Consumers should use this tool regularly to check that they are on the best tariff for their needs, as money can be saved by switching supplier, tariff, or billing method.
"We know from our research that most consumers in Northern Ireland are still really worried about home energy prices. We urge anyone who is struggling to pay their energy bills or top-up their meters to contact their supplier directly for help and support.
"The Government has confirmed the Energy Price Guarantee will remain in place as a safety net until March 2024 should energy prices increase significantly again during this period. However, as prices remain well above the pre-pandemic norm the Consumer Council will continue to liaise with decision-makers to seek support for those who will continue to be impacted by high energy prices this winter.”
The Consumer Council provides support and advice online including an overview of all financial help, grants, and schemes that are currently available to consumers. Go to www.consumercouncil.org.uk/costofliving/energy
Consumers can also get in touch with the Consumer Council for free independent advice by calling Freephone 0800 121 6022 or by emailing [email protected].