Firmus energy has announced today, 6th September 2022, an increase of 56.3% effective from 3rd October 2022 for gas customers in both the Ten Towns and Greater Belfast gas networks.
This is the third time firmus energy have increased their gas prices this year, and this will impact approximately 62,000 domestic and small business gas customers in the Ten Towns area. This means the annual gas bill of a typical household with a credit meter will rise by about £847 per year, those customers with a prepayment gas meter (PAYG) will see their typical costs increase by around £806 per year.
The Greater Belfast tariff increase will impact approximately 47,000 gas customers. This will leave the annual gas bill of a typical household with a credit meter will rise by about £855 per year, those customers with a prepayment gas meter (PAYG) will see their typical costs increase by around £843 per year.
Raymond Gormley, Head of Energy Policy at the Consumer Council said:
“Of all the recent energy price increases this announcement is the most shocking. We are facing into a very serious crisis this winter and we are angry and fearful on behalf of Northern Ireland consumers. Until recent times, a household’s typical annual bill was lower than the amount of this increase.
Once this price rise takes place on 3rd October, consumer bills will be around four times the norm, highlighting why the Consumer Council has been calling for much more support for consumers.
We know from speaking to consumers daily that many are choosing between heating and eating, and for some, neither is an option. It is really worrying to think how these consumers are going to cope over the winter months. Such high prices will make the coming winter miserable for many and life threatening for some.”
“These increases, mainly due to the sustained high price of wholesale gas, follow well-publicised rises in home heating oil, electricity and grocery costs. This is extremely worrying news for consumers in vulnerable situations and low-income households. It also means a wider group of households than ever are having their budgets stretched ever further.”
“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.
Raymond continued: “In the short term, the Consumer Council is working to protect consumers by encouraging Government to introduce further financial support ahead of the coming winter and clarity is needed as soon as possible about when the Chancellor’s £400 energy support package to all households will be made available to people here. We have appealed to the energy industry, to commit to continued financial support for a fuel hardship scheme for the winter ahead.
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 Northern Ireland away from its dependence on fossil fuels.”
The Consumer Council’s website has a number of free resources including Switch On: A Guide for Home Energy Users to help consumers be more energy efficient at home, get the best from their electricity or gas supply and save money.
Consumers can also get in touch with the Consumer Council for free independent advice by calling Freephone 0800 121 6022 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.