SSE Airtricity has announced significant further price increases for its gas and electric customers.
It is increasing gas prices by 28.4% and electric will rise by 35.5%.
Both will hit in October. It is the latest in a string of major increases over the past year across the energy market.
The company blamed global pressures on supply mainly caused by the war in Ukraine - and has pledged a £21million support fund for around 60,000 people to help them with their bills.
The gas price increase will impact around 188,000 domestic gas customers throughout the greater Belfast and West gas networks, and about 4,600 commercial customers.
Gas bills will rise by about £350 a year for the average customer.
The increase in electricity prices will see the average household bill for electric also increase by around £350 to £1,356 per year, the consumer council said. It comes as the Chancellor met with Finance Minister Conor Murphy and Economy Minister Gordon Lyons on getting the pledged £400 energy support payment to people in Northern Ireland.
Mr Murphy said no fixed date has been provided suggesting it could be the new year, while Mr Lyons said it looked like the money would be distributed in November.
The Consumer Council said bills for many will be over £1,000 more this winter compared to year.
The utility regulator had warned of further price increases on the way.
SEE said it was disappointed to be forced into making further increases in bills.
Klair Neenan, managing director of SSE Airtricity said: "We know this news will be disappointing for our customers. It was hoped market volatility would ease, but the global energy crisis continues to impact gas and electricity costs for all energy suppliers. “However, we are acutely aware of the impact this has for households and are working hard to help where we can. This includes our £21m support fund offsetting today’s announced price change for our existing financially vulnerable customers for the winter period.
"During the course of the year, SSE Airtricity has partnered with trusted local charities and delivered charitable donations of almost £2 million which will be used to support people who are struggling with the cost of living.
“SSE Airtricity has a longstanding commitment to working with our customers. Our customer support fund is aimed at helping customers experiencing financial difficulty through the current cost of living and energy crisis.
“As always, we encourage any customer who is having difficulty with their energy bills to contact us. We will work with them to find a solution together, including flexible payment plans, budget plans, and different payment methods such as pay-as-you-go options.
“While it is difficult to know when wholesale prices will begin to improve, we are committed to reducing our prices as soon as we can.”
Peter McClenaghan, director of infrastructure and sustainability at the Consumer Council said: “We are facing into a very serious crisis this winter and I am angry and fearful on behalf of Northern Ireland consumers.
"Already many of our households are at the brink. This announcement means consumers in Belfast face combined annual gas and electricity bills in excess of £2,500 a year, with further price increases to come.
"This is a global problem, the price of the gas we import is outside the control of local companies, but consumers require a lot more local support than has been offered to date.
"The £400 Energy Support Scheme promised to all households in NI by the Chancellor will be a help, but it will not be nearly enough as a typical gas consuming household will be paying out over £1,000 more for energy this winter than last.
“We encourage anyone who is struggling to pay their energy bills or to top-up their meter, to contact their supplier directly for help and information. We also encourage consumers to think about ways they can reduce their energy costs through energy efficiency and, if you can, put some extra money aside for energy costs this winter.” Peter continued: “In the short term, the Consumer Council has been working in collaboration with Government departments, The Utility Regulator, energy suppliers, and third sector organisations, who have been working hard to try to put in place immediate support and advice to help those in energy crisis this winter and beyond.
"In the longer term, this situation shows the importance of the Department for the Economy’s Energy Strategy Action Plan, that aims to tackle affordability and move us away from our dependence on fossil fuels.” Those who wish to speak about becoming more energy efficient or about their energy usage can contact us by visiting sseairtricity.com or calling 0345 601 9093. Customers are advised to submit meter readings to ensure billing accuracy. This can be done online through the SSE Airtricity website.
In addition to support and advice available from SSE Airtricity, the company is also making customers aware of free independent help and information from the Consumer Council on 028 9025 1600 and NI Energy Advice on 0800 111 4455.
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