Northern Ireland

Electricity bills: Power NI customers set for 6% bill increase

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Media captionPower NI customers set for 6% bill increase

Almost half a million homes in Northern Ireland will see their electricity bills rise by 6% from October.

Power NI, which has 458,000 domestic customers across Northern Ireland, is increasing prices in a move that will add about £35 a year to the average household electricity bill.

This is the third year in a row that Power NI has hiked its prices.

The company said the change, which has been agreed with the Utility Regulator, was due to increased costs.

It said these had come from the electricity network provider and the market operator.

"Unfortunately, like all suppliers, we have no alternative but to pay these increased network and market charges, which have a knock-on effect on our prices," said Stephen McCully, managing director of Power NI.

"Having been through a rigorous process with the Utility Regulator, our customers can be sure that although unwelcome, this increase is as low as possible."

Image caption The Consumer Council advises people to shop around for a better deal

The Consumer Council described the increase as disappointing.

Paulino Garcia, head of energy policy, said the council is concerned about the impact on vulnerable consumers on low incomes.

He said the fall in wholesale energy prices over the last three months had not materialised in prices.

Mr Garcia added that Power NI and the Utility Regulator assured the council that if wholesale prices continue to fall, the savings will be passed on.

The Consumer Council advises bill payers to use their independent comparison tool to check if they can make savings. It also pointed out that bills can be cut without switching your supplier by setting up a direct debit.

'Lower than average'

Power NI has 35,000 farm and business customers who will also see a rise in their bills, but as many have personalised contracts with either a market tracker or a fixed-price deal, the increase will vary depending on contract type and tariff.

Power NI is regulated by the Utility Regulator in Northern Ireland.

"Approving any increase to electricity bills is not a decision we take lightly," said Utility Regulator chief executive Jenny Pyper.

"It is disappointing that, due to a number of rising costs, Power NI need to increase their domestic tariff."

"Despite this increase, Power NI's standard domestic electricity tariff continues to be lower than the Great Britain and Republic of Ireland average," she added.

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