FIRMUS energy has become latest gas supplier to increase its tariff for customers from next month.
Firmus is hiking its prices for over 85,000 customers in the greater Belfast area and ‘Ten Towns’ network across the north.
Customers in Belfast will see prices go up by 8.8 per cent from April 18, adding an extra £43.56 to the average annual bill, while customers in the rest of Northern Ireland will see a 6.8 per cent rise from April 5, an additional £37.80 a year on average.
The Ten Towns network includes Antrim, Armagh, Ballymena, Ballymoney, Banbridge, Coleraine, Craigavon (including Lurgan and Portadown), Limavady, Derry, Newry and more than 20 other towns and villages in the surrounding areas.
Managing director of firmus energy, Michael Scott said the decision to raise tariffs is “regrettable”, but “unavoidable”.
“We work hard to keep our tariffs as low as possible, to offer price stability for customers and give them confidence in natural gas. The decision to raise our tariffs is regrettable and never easy, however in this instance the cost of bringing natural gas to our customers has increased and our price rise has been unavoidable.”
The Utility Regulator’s director of retail and consumer protection, Kevin Shiels added:
“There are a number of reasons for this increase. Our regulation requires firmus energy to return to customers any additional revenue (known as over recovery) that they make during the previous tariff period. However, if firmus energy spent more on gas than they earned in revenue (known as under recovery), they can get this back from customers in the next tariff period. This ensures that customers only pay the actual cost of the gas. Last year, an over recovery element had the effect of reducing the tariff from what it would otherwise have been. However, for this tariff period, there is an under recovery, which means that instead of a reduction applied, this element has actually increased. This explains around half of this year’s increase.
“The remaining portion of the increase is due to the increase in international energy costs, which make up a significant portion of your bills, and network charges which have also risen in line with inflation.”
The announcement from Firmus comes less than a week after SSE Aitricity confirmed it will raise its prices by 7.8 per cent from April 1. The tariff increase will see the average gas bill for a household rise by £39 a year and will impact on SSE Airtricity’s 150,000 home and small business customers, the majority of which are in the greater Belfast area.