Firmus Energy set to roll out 56.3% price increase in Northern Ireland

Firmus Energy has announced its largest ever price increase for customers in Northern Ireland.

Customers will see costs rise by 56.3% which will come into effect from 3 October 2022.

This is around four times the norm, the Consumer Council said, adding that until recent times a typical annual bill was lower than the amount of this increase.

The Consumer Council described the hike as "the most shocking" in recent times and said "we're facing into a real crisis this winter".

"We are angry and fearful on behalf of Northern Ireland consumers," said Raymond Gormley from the Consumer Council.

The new tariff will mean an additional £15.50 per week for the average household bill in the Ten Towns Network area, while for the Greater Belfast Network area 1 it will mean an extra £16.22 per week. This will see bills increase by around £847 per year.

The increase will apply to around 109,000 gas customers. The company said the increase in global gas prices was brought about by the war in Ukraine.

This is the third time Firmus has increase gas prices this year.

It comes following warnings from the utility regulator in August that consumers would experience further energy cost pressures during the winter period.

In July of this year, Firmus Energy implemented at 24.54% rise in cost for gas customers in the Belfast area.

In a statement the energy firm said: "As announced recently by the Northern Ireland Utility Regulator, continuing increases in global wholesale gas prices are impacting the tariffs of local energy suppliers.

"As a result of these unprecedented global prices, Firmus Energy is being forced to announce increase to its natural gas tariffs in the Greater Belfast Network and Ten Towns Network area by 53.6%.

"This increase will take effect from 3 October 2022."

Chief Executive of firmus, Niall Martindale, said: “Increases in wholesale gas commodity costs continue to impact the market and regrettably, we have no choice but to reflect these increases in our tariffs.

“The ongoing war in Ukraine and Russian disruption to the supply of natural gas in Europe is having a significant and adverse impact on energy costs, affecting all suppliers here in Northern Ireland, as well as nationally and internationally.

“We know this is not welcome news. Tariffs are set as a direct consequence of wholesale prices on the global market, and we have no option but to reflect the cost of this gas within our tariffs. We remain committed to reducing tariffs as soon as the market crisis subsides and enables us to do so.

“We know this is a very difficult time for many households and businesses and we urge any of our customers who need further support to call our dedicated local team to discuss ways in which we can help.”

The Utility Regulator the average combined cost of gas and electric in Northern Ireland would still be lower than in Great Britain Credit: Utility Regulator

Chief Executive of the Utility Regulator, John French, said the latest increase "is unfortunately needed" due to "significant and volatile movements in the cost of wholesale gas on international markets".

He added: “Consumers who are worried about the impact of these higher prices should always contact their electricity or gas supplier in the first instance, to make them aware of their circumstances, and discuss the options available to them.

"In addition, there are also a number of agencies who can provide free and independent advice to households, including Advice NI, Christians Against Poverty and Money and Pensions Service’s MoneyHelper.”

Raymond Gormley, the Head of Energy Policy at the Consumer Council said: “We urge anyone who is struggling to pay their energy bills or top-up their meter to contact their supplier directly for help and support.

"We also encourage consumers to think about ways they can reduce their energy costs through energy efficiency and if possible, try to save money over the next few weeks to cover energy costs during the coming winter."

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