Firmus hikes up gas by 38.18% - third rise this year for consumers in Craigavon, Portadown and Lurgan areas
As customers saw a 35% spike in gas prices in October, firmus energy announced its third increase (38.18%) to Ten Towns’ customers this year.
Earlier this year the gas firm, which is the only supplier to customers in the Ten Towns, announced its first price rise of 18%.
The Ten Towns Network includes Craigavon (Portadown and Lurgan) Antrim, Armagh, Ballymena, Ballymoney, Banbridge, Coleraine, Limavady, Derry/Londonderry, Newry, and more than 25 other towns and villages in the surrounding areas.
Those representing consumers on low incomes, on benefits and pensioners have already voiced concern about these steep rises, particularly as Winter begins.
The firm said: “Due to further increases in global wholesale gas prices, firmus energy has today announced a 38.18% increase to the natural gas tariff in the Ten Towns Network area.
“This will take effect from the 3rd December 2021.
“Wholesale global gas prices have increased by 430% from a year ago and by 136% since the previous tariff review that came into effect on the 1st October.
“Today’s announced change in tariff will mean an extra £4.89 per week on to the average household bill.”
Dr David Dobbin, Chairman of firmus energy, said: “We very much regret having to increase our tariff however steep increases in global wholesale gas prices have forced our hand.
“This is a not a firmus issue, but a challenge faced by every local and national supplier of gas and electricity all of whom, sooner or later, will have to further increase their prices to meet the huge upsurges which have taken place in wholesale energy costs.
“We know this is an unwelcome increase which will have a disproportionate effect on those of our customers who are the most vulnerable. We have been consulting with key stakeholders and will be introducing a support scheme to be delivered through a local charity which will offer targeted help to those most in need, especially over the winter period.
“The scheme will be launched in the coming weeks and will go live around the same time as the increase we announced today takes effect. If any of our customers feel that they require further support, they should contact us directly to see how we can help.”
Customers seeking advice on their natural gas bills or direct debit payments should contact the firmus energy Customer Services team on 0330 024 9000. Our telephone lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For free and independent advice on how to save energy please contact NI Energy Advice Line on 0800 111 4455.
John French, Utility Regulator Chief Executive said: “In October, we received a submission from Firmus Energy to undertake an ad-hoc review of their regulated Ten Towns tariff for domestic and small business consumers.
“We have now analysed and evaluated Firmus Energy’s submission and consulted with the Department for the Economy and the Consumer Council for Northern Ireland. This review has unfortunately concluded that a 38.18% increase from 3 December 2021 is needed to reflect the exceptional price spikes that have been experienced in the global wholesale market over recent months.
“This will regrettably mean that the average annual household gas bill in the Ten Towns licence area will increase by £267 per year.
“Unfortunately, over the last six months, we have seen unparalleled increases in the cost of wholesale energy at a global level. The rising market has been further exacerbated by the overall volatility within the market, with significant price movements occurring on a daily basis.
“Currently, it is unclear how long these higher global prices will last, but increasingly, market analysts are talking about higher wholesale prices for the next 18-36 months. However, if wholesale prices begin to reduce, our system of regulation in Northern Ireland allows us to act to make sure that reductions are fully passed onto consumers as quickly as possible.
“The reason that these global movements impact consumers here in Northern Ireland is that they make up more than half of a consumer’s bill.
“We are extremely aware of how this further energy price increase will affect consumers in Northern Ireland. That is why we have established a working group with the Department for the Economy, Department for Communities and the Consumer Council for Northern Ireland to actively explore what practical measures can be brought forward to alleviate the burden of these higher prices on consumers, this winter.
“I have written to all energy suppliers and reminded them of their regulatory obligations to avoid customer disconnections and consider other approaches to protecting customers in debt. We are also following this up with individual meetings with all energy suppliers, to ensure they are doing all they can to support their customers.
“I would encourage anyone worried about paying for their energy bill to contact their supplier as soon as possible. There are also a number of agencies who can provide free and independent advice, including Advice NI, Money and Pensions Service and Christians Against Poverty.”
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