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SSE Airtricity gas customers facing £45.90 hike in annual bills

Gas customers served by SSE Airtricity are facing a 9.8 per cent rise in their bills from April
Gary McDonald Business Editor

AROUND 180,000 natural gas customers across the north are facing a near double-digit percentage price increase from April 1, which will cost the typical household £45.90.

SSE Airtricity, Northern Ireland’s largest provider of natural gas, is blaming its latest 9.8 per cent hike on "external costs outside our control", including increasing costs in global wholesale energy markets.

But the tariff change is lower than that of rival Firmus, which confirmed last month that its natural gas customers outside Belfast will see a 17.75 per cent hike - that's roughly £78 a year.

The bigger bills for SSE customers will cover around 178,000 connections in Greater Belfast and another 1,200 in its Gas to the West area.

Andrew Greer, general manager of SSE Airtricity NI, said: “We know this is a challenging time for many of our customers and this decision has not been taken lightly.

“But the cost of purchasing natural gas has materially increased compared to this time last year and, while we have worked hard to shield our customers from these costs through the winter, we unfortunately have no alternative but to increase our prices at this time.”

Last year SSE was able to reduce its gas prices by 18 per cent, trimming tariffs to their lowest levels in many years.

The announcement follows SSE Airtricity’s half-yearly review of supply and operating costs in its regulated natural gas business and was made after consultation with the north's Utility Regulator.

Its chief executive John French said: “We have accepted SSE Airtricity's submission to increase its regulated gas tariff.

“After this increase, the average SSE bill in the Greater Belfast licence area will be £514 a year, which compares to an annual average gas bill in GB of £536, some £685 in RoI, and £518 in Firmus Energy’s Ten Towns licence area.

“I recognise that, with Covid-19, this increase has come at the worst possible time for households and small businesses, and we have therefore been working with the Consumer Council and the energy industry to ensure consumers are supported and fairly treated.”

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