Utility Regulator John French extremely worried for Northern Ireland energy price market

The Utility Regulator has told UTV there is "no upside at the moment for consumers".

The warning comes amid predicted gas price rises for SSE Airtricity and Firmus Energy customers in Northern Ireland.

It is expected the price hike will be around 30%.

Utility Regulator Chief Executive, John French said the move was down to rising prices in wholesale gas prices.

The last price hike was announced in July.

It comes as consumers continue to grapple with the escalating costs of living.

On Monday, the Chancellor held talks with Stormont Ministers and announced a new joint taskforce to try and resolve the uncertainty over £400 energy payments.

They are set to be rolled out in Great Britain from the autumn but there are questions around how they will be made in Northern Ireland in the absence of a functioning Executive.

The UK government will make the payments to try and help households with the escalating crisis.

Mr French said the situation is getting worse for consumers: "Well I was really disappointed on Monday if I'm honest in terms of the meeting.

"We met with the Chancellor last Wednesday to have a pragmatic meeting on how we could take this forward on Monday, the meeting seemed to be bogged down with governance issues.

"For us, wholesale prices are increasing, consumers and businesses in Northern Ireland are suffering with that, we need to get that support out to customers as soon as possible."

UTV asked the Utility Regulator Chief Executive what the future holds for consumers:

"I'm extremely worried, just looking at the screens everyday and seeing the price hikes, prices have doubled in the last six weeks, that's unsustainable, that's never been experienced before," he said

He added: "I'm very worried, the market has no upside at the minute."

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