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Coleraine and Ballymoney firmus customers face price hike

Firmus energy has today announced an increase of 38.18% from 3 December 2021 for gas customers in the Ten Towns area, impacting around 55,000 domestic customers.

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The Ten Towns area includes Coleraine, Ballymoney, Antrim, Armagh, Ballymena, Ballymoney, Banbridge, Craigavon (including Lurgan and Portadown), Limavady, Derry-Londonderry, Newry and more than 25 other towns and villages in the surrounding areas.

This increase will see the yearly gas bill of a typical household with a credit meter rise by about £268 per year. Those customers with a prepayment gas meter (PAYG) costs will increase by around £255 per year.

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Raymond Gormley, Head of Energy Policy at the Consumer Council said: “While the Utility Regulator forewarned that a price rise of this nature was coming because of exceptionally high global wholesale gas prices, it is going to be very challenging for many households to afford these costs.

“With the cost of energy continuing to increase, the Consumer Council is concerned about a potential rise in fuel poverty as some families may struggle to find the extra money they will now need to pay for heating.

“We welcome firmus energy’s commitment to assist some of our most vulnerable consumers with the introduction of a financial support scheme and we encourage other energy suppliers to have support measures in place to help those customers in need. This is of particular importance given wholesale prices look set to remain high for the foreseeable future.”

The Consumer Council’s website has a number of free resources including Switch On: A Guide for Home Energy Users, which helps consumers be more energy efficient at home, get the best from their electricity or gas supply, and save money.

firmus energy customers in Greater Belfast and in the gas to the West network area will not be impacted by this tariff change.

Consumers who are struggling with their energy bills or topping up their meter should contact their supplier directly for support. 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]

Responsing to the news, firmus said: “Due to further increases in global wholesale gas prices, firmus energy has today announced a 38.18% increase to the natural gas tariff in the Ten Towns Network area. This will take effect from the 3 rd December 2021.

“Wholesale global gas prices have increased by 430% from a year ago and by 136% since the previous tariff review that came into effect on the 1 st October. Today’s announced change in tariff will mean an extra £4.89 per week on to the average household bill.”

Dr David Dobbin, Chairman of firmus energy, said: “We very much regret having to increase our tariff however steep increases in global wholesale gas prices have forced our hand.

“This is a not a firmus issue, but a challenge faced by every local and national supplier of gas and electricity all of whom, sooner or later, will have to further increase their prices to meet the huge upsurges which have taken place in wholesale energy costs.

“We know this is an unwelcome increase which will have a disproportionate effect on those of our customers who are the most vulnerable. We have been consulting with key stakeholders and will be introducing a support scheme to be delivered through a local charity which will offer targeted help to those most in need, especially over the winter period.

“The scheme will be launched in the coming weeks and will go live around the same time as the increase we announced today takes effect. If any of our customers feel that they require further support, they should contact us directly to see how we can help.”

Customers seeking advice on their natural gas bills or direct debit payments should contact the firmus energy Customer Services team on 0330 024 9000. Telephone lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For free and independent advice on how to save energy please contact NI Energy Advice Line on 0800 111 4455.