Sunday, March 3, 2024

Electricity prices to soar by 14% in NI despite Power NI slashing prices

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The only domestic supplier that is price-regulated in the region said a review of underlying residential unit prices has resulted in a decrease of 6.61p per unit.

However, it will coincide with support from the Government’s Energy Price Guarantee (EPG) Scheme reducing by 10.33p per unit – meaning tariffs will still increase overall by 3.72p per unit, or around 14%.

The new residential electricity unit price will be effective from April 1.

It marks the second reduction in tariffs by Power NI, which provides customers with an additional level of safeguarding, as tariffs are only adjusted through a Utility Regulator validated formula, this year.

Director of customer solutions William Steele said the decrease in wholesale energy prices has enabled Power NI to again reduce its underlying unit price.

“However, the recent change by the UK Government to its Energy Price Guarantee means that a lower level of scheme discount will be applied to all electricity bills,” he explained.

“Unfortunately, this means customers will see a 14% increase in prices.

“We understand that some customers may be worried about paying bills.

“We would ask for any concerned customers to contact us directly and we will help you.”

Mr Steele said the company is working directly with customers and will continue to work closely with its charity partners and other key stakeholders to ensure the most vulnerable people in society and those who are struggling get the help they need.

The Consumer Council said the typical standard Power NI credit bill will increase by around £119 and Power NI customers with a prepayment meter will also see their costs increase by £116 a year.

Its director of infrastructure and sustainability Peter McClenaghan welcomed the reduction in wholesale energy prices and Power NI price cut.

“However, as this is happening at the same time as changes to the level of the Energy Price Guarantee, consumers’ bills will increase,” he added.

“This strange situation is happening because the additional back-dated EPG support consumers here were receiving is ending.

“The additional support had been provided because the EPG was introduced later in Northern Ireland.

“Due to the change in EPG, it is likely that the other four unregulated electricity suppliers in Northern Ireland will increase their prices, accordingly, meaning that consumers should consider reviewing their tariff in the coming months to ensure they are on the best deal for their needs, as money can be saved by switching supplier, tariff, or billing method.

“We know from our pulse survey 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.”

Meanwhile Budget Energy has confirmed it is reducing its domestic standard variable unit rate by 19% from April 1, 2023.

The cheaper rate means a typical pre-pay customer will save around £324 a year.

General manager of the energy provider Sean O’Loughlin said the company has always been committed to passing on savings once market conditions improved.

“Therefore, we are pleased to confirm the rate cut from 1st April 2023, and we hope that this is the first step in returning household electricity prices to more affordable levels for our customers,” he said.

However, he warned that international markets remain volatile as he vowed to continue to monitor the market to see if further price changes are possible into the future.

Mr O’Loughlin said the price slash should offset “the majority” of increases due to the Energy Price Guarantee discount rate being reduced in NI.

Power NI offers a range of discounted payment schemes and services.

Bill paying customers can save up to £60 a year through online billing and monthly Direct Debit whereas pay as you go keypad customers receive uncapped discounts and free electricity when they top up £50 or more using the free Power NI app or via the website.

Customers can top up by using the free app, going online or by calling the self-service 24/7 telephone service on 03457 455 455 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm).

Details of all help can be found at www.powerni.co.uk/energy-bill-support.

Electric Ireland have also announced customers will see an increase to their household bills as a result of the government’s change in the EPG support rate.

The company said the change would be ‘partially offset’ by a 9.2% reduction in their underlying tariff from April 1, with average weekly bills rising from £20.35 to £24.02.

Bill Coyle, Northern Ireland Residential Manager said: “We are acutely aware, with the changes to the EPG support rate that this continues to be a very challenging time for many of our customers.

“Our announcement today will help lessen the impact of these changes and we are writing to inform our customers.”

Electric Ireland’s customer care team works closely with a number of organisations including Age NI, Advice NI and NEA who can also provide support for energy users during these difficult times.

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