Northern Ireland customers to miss out on Electric Ireland 2.5 per cent bills reduction

CUSTOMERS in the north are to miss out on a 2.5 per cent cut in power bills announced yesterday by Electric Ireland.

The all-island supply firm, which has been operating in Northern Ireland since 2015, confirmed that it is reducing its electricity unit prices by 2.5 per cent and gas by 11.5 per cent, effective from April 1.

For Electric Ireland’s average residential customers, that will mean an annual reduction of €22 (about £18.50) and €78 (£65.50) for gas.

But the company revealed that the decreases apply to the southern market only.

A spokesman told the Irish News: "The Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland energy markets are two separate markets and operate entirely independently.

"The price reductions apply to Republic of Ireland residential customers only, though we continue to monitor electricity costs in Northern Ireland, where we do not operate in the residential gas market."

The news, however, will come as a blow to its customer base in the north.

Part of the ESB Group, Electric Ireland has been operating in the business energy market in Northern Ireland since 2001, and in 2015 it relaunched into the residential market, where it claims to supply 96,500 homes.

Marguerite Sayers, executive director of Electric Ireland, said the cuts marked the company's biggest reduction in gas prices since it began selling gas.

"In addition, we provide customers with a long-standing discount rate that doesn't disappear after a year, innovative new products and the right energy advice," she added.

Currently the electricity market in Northern Ireland has five main players, with Power NI commanding nearly two thirds of domestic supply, well ahead of SSE, Electric Ireland, Budget Energy and Click Energy.

The ESB Group, which employs about 1,400 people in Northern Ireland, owns and operates NIE Networks and Coolkeeragh ESB power plant in the north west, along with a number of wind farms across Northern Ireland.

Electric Ireland is the retail division of the Electricity Supply Board (ESB), which was established in 1927 as a statutory corporation in the Republic of Ireland and the majority of shares are held by the Irish government.

Overall it supplies electricity, gas and energy services to more than 1.2 million households and 95,000 businesses in the Republic and Northern Ireland.