Firmus gas customers in greater Belfast face 14 per cent tariff hike

TARIFF CHANGE: Michael Scott, managing director of firmus energy
Gary McDonald Business Editor

MORE than 50,000 gas customers in Belfast and outlying towns are facing a rise of £1.32 a week in their bills from April 15.

Supplier Firmus Energy says it is imposing the 14 per cent hike following an increase in global wholesale gas prices, which equates to about £69 a year (or £68 for those with a prepayment gas meter).

The area affected, as well as Belfast, covers Lisburn, Bangor, Holywood, Donaghadee, Groomsport, Millisle, Newtownards, Carryduff, Comber, Newtownabbey, Carrickfergus, Larne, and East Down.

The increase in the greater Belfast area is lower than the 17.75 per cent rise imposed on Firmus Energy's Ten Towns network, announced last month.

Michael Scott, managing director of Firmus Energy, said: “Price stability is important for our customers, but the increase of wholesale natural gas costs on the global market, which is beyond our control, has made this rise inevitable.

“We recognise this comes at a particularly difficult time for many, and we want to assure customers that we will continue to monitor and review our tariffs to ensure customers are getting the best prices possible.”

Raymond Gormley, interim head of energy at the Consumer Council, said the firmus decision is “unwelcome news” for householders and small businesses, adding that those experiencing financial difficulty and who may be struggling to pay their energy bills should contact their supplier to talk about options.

The 14 per cent and 17.75 rises for Firmus gas customers compares to a 9.8 per cent lift in tariffs imposed by rival supplier SSE Airtricity.

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