Thousands switch supplier following new entrants to Northern Ireland electricity market
THOUSANDS of households switched electricity supplier over the last quarter of 2015 as two new companies entered the domestic market.
There was an upturn in the rate of switching according to the latest figures from the Northern Ireland Utility Regulator.
In the first set of statistics since new entrants Click Energy and Open Electric joined the market in October, the regulator found they had secured 3,175 and 96 customers respectively.
The new firms brought the number competing for domestic customers in the north to six.
Derry-based Click Energy was started by Damian Wilson, a former director at rival Budget Energy while Open Electric was founded by Marc Norris, formerly a technical analyst with the System Operator for Northern Ireland (Soni).
The market opened to competition in 2007 but it wasn't until three years later that SSE Airtricity became incumbent Power NI's first competitor.
Power NI remains the leading provider supplying around 520,000 homes followed by Airtricity at around 200,000 and Budget Energy at around 60,000.
Meanwhile, Electric Ireland, which yesterday announced a 10 per cent tariff reduction, saw the greatest percentage growth in domestic numbers over the three months to 3,584 from 1,937.
Switching however was much greater in the business market with the rate jumping from 2.3 per cent to 6.1 per cent.
Go Power - part of the LCC Group - was the main contributor to that rate as it grew numbers in the small business sector to 7,359 from 4,693 in the previous quarter.
Meanwhile, Electric Ireland became the latest provider to announce a reduction in tariffs for households.
It is cutting 10 per cent from domestic bills fro March 21, following similar announcements by its competitors.
IT will make its standard unit rate 13.99p.
The company's Northern Ireland sales manager Tim Jenks said: "Thousands of households have already taken advantage of the unique offer we have brought to the market and we are confident that with this price decrease, our customer base will continue to increase rapidly.
“We are committed to making sure that our customers in Northern Ireland always get our most competitive prices. Electric Ireland's philosophy is to offer customers long term value and does not aim to win customers with the appearance of upfront discounts that are unclear. Instead we are providing enduring competitive rates and very clear cash bonus rewards for customers who switch to us. Furthermore, any customer who pays by direct debit can avail of this great pricing without entering into a contract.”
Power NI, which is regulated by the watchdog, announced last month it would slash 10 per cent from bills.
A similar review is under way in the gas sector with SSE Airtricity last week saying it would reduce tariffs for its gas customers in the greater Belfast area by 10 per cent (in addition to cutting electricity prices by the same margin).
Firmus Energy is expected to announce later this month it will also reduce gas prices.