The Utility Regulator has commented on the statement yesterday from firmus energy announcing a 17.75% increase to its regulated gas tariffs for domestic and small business customers[1] in the Ten Towns area. This change in tariff will be effective from 1 April 2021.

Commenting on the announcement, John French, Utility Regulator Chief Executive said “In February 2021, firmus energy submitted a request to the Utility Regulator to increase their Ten Towns regulated tariff by 17.75% or £78 per year. Following a detailed regulatory examination of the company’s gas purchasing strategy, operating costs and regulatory reserves[2], we have accepted firmus energy’s submission. 

“This increase reflects a significant rise in the cost of wholesale gas over the last year. For example, the price of wholesale gas traded on the ‘day ahead’ market has nearly doubled since January 2020.

“After this increase, the average firmus energy bill in the Ten Towns licence area will now be £518 per year. This compares to the annual average gas bill in GB of £536 and £685[3] in RoI.

“We expect all suppliers in Northern Ireland to set their prices competitively and treat their consumers fairly. We will continue to proactively review wholesale energy costs and should these decrease, we will act to ensure that regulated companies reflect this in consumer bills.

“We recognise that many households in Northern Ireland are struggling with the impact of Covid-19. We have been working with the energy industry and the Consumer Council to ensure consumers are supported through this difficult time. I would encourage anyone who is worried about their energy bill to contact their supplier and access the help and support that is available.”

Newry City. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/

Further information on the support available to energy customers is available at COVID-19-ENERGY-DEBT-ADVICE and within the consumer protection section of the Utility Regulator’s website WWW.UREGNI.GOV.UK the Consumer Council's website has energy advice for consumers during these difficult times and also provides an independent ENERGY PRICE COMPARISON TOOL to help consumers save money. 

A number of agencies can provide free and independent advice, including Advice NI, Money and Pensions Service and CHRISTIANS AGAINST POVERTY. There is also more information on support for natural gas customers from the new WWW.NATURALGASNI.COM website.

This tariff announcement marks the conclusion of a review undertaken by the Utility Regulator and firmus energy, in consultation with the Department for the Economy and the Consumer Council for Northern Ireland. 

[1] Business customers using less than 2,500 therms per annum.

2 Also referred to as over/under recovery. An explanation on these costs is provided in the briefing paper.

3 Exchange rate of 0.888 rate used in calculation.

Price Rises Will Drive More People  Into Fuel Poverty

Newry & Armagh MP Mickey Brady said that the recent announcement by Firmus Gas will drive more people into fuel poverty. 

The MP also confirmed that his Party had requested a urgent meeting with Firmus to discuss the increase. 

Mickey Brady MP

Mr Brady said "The reported move by gas company Firmus to increase bills by 17.5 percent will hit customers hard, particularly now during the pandemic when people are at home more and using more gas. 

"This increase will be applied across a number of areas of the north, including Newry and Armagh. 

"Many people switched their home heating to gas and will now be hit hard in the pocket and drive more people into fuel poverty. 

"Sinn Féin have  written to Firmus calling for an urgent meeting to discuss this grossly unfair proposed price hike." 

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