Consumers warned gas bills likely to go up by another £100 per year

The Utility Regulator has said the average annual household gas bill in the north will likely go up by around £100.

HOUSEHOLD gas bills are set to rise by an extra £100 per year, the north’s Utility Regulator has warned.

John French said the wholesale price of gas, coal, oil, and carbon have seen record increases on the UK and European markets

But he said electricity tariffs are unlikely to rise again in 2021.

Oil prices initially slumped in response to the drop in consumption during the first Covid-19 lockdown last year.

But the energy watchdog said wholesale prices have rebounded in line with the economic recovery.

Energy markets have also felt the impact of declining UK and European natural gas production, along with a reduction in gas supplies from Russia and the USA.

“All of which have also contributed to record price increases,” said Mr French.

“These wholesale price increases will unfortunately impact consumers in Northern Ireland, as wholesale energy costs make up around half of both our gas and electricity bills.”

The Utility Regulator said SSE Airtricity and Firmus Energy are preparing to announce increases in their gas tariffs in early September.

He said it will likely take the average annual household gas bill in Northern Ireland (around £515 per year) closer to the average annual gas bills in Britain (£625) and the Republic (£782).

But the industry regulator is not anticipating any further change in the regulated electricity tariff in 2021.

Power NI put its domestic tariff up by 6.9 per cent in July, pushing their regulated electricity tariff up by £39 per year. It left the average household bill at around £610 per year.

John French said that’s still well below the average in Britain (£810) and the Republic (£865).

“I recognise that any price increase is unwelcome, especially at this time with many households and business struggling to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Mr Fench.

“Whilst we have no control over wholesale energy markets, the Utility Regulator, and partners such as the Consumer Council have been working with industry to see how we can mitigate some of the effects of these increases.

“For example, we have approved a reduction in network gas costs, which will reduce the impact of wholesale gas price rises to an average households by £20 a year.

“In addition, we are continuing to work with energy suppliers who provide regulated tariffs, to ensure their prices fairly reflect movements in the underlying wholesale markets, and any future reductions are fully passed onto consumers."

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