Rebecca Black (PA)
A drop in gas prices has been announced by supplier Firmus Energy.
Firmus said it will reduce its tariffs for customers in the Ten Towns Network area by 20.52%, and by 17.60 % in the Greater Belfast Network area, from January 1, 2023.
The company said the price drop will reduce the average cost by £8.831 per week in Ten Towns and by £7.922 in Greater Belfast, adding that on an annual basis, this will save customers £460 and £410, on average, respectively.
The Ten Towns Network area includes Antrim, Armagh, Ballymena, Ballymoney, Banbridge, Coleraine, Craigavon (including Lurgan and Portadown), Limavady, Londonderry, Newry, and more than 25 other towns and villages in the surrounding areas.
Meanwhile, also from January 1 2023, the Government’s energy price guarantee (EPG) scheme will further reduce the price customers pay by 3.893 pence per kWh, providing up to a further 27.60% reduction to the new tariff.
Niall Martindale, chief executive of Firmus Energy, said they were pleased to be announcing the price reduction.
“Throughout this challenging period, we committed that as soon as market conditions allowed us to lower our prices we would do so, and today we are pleased to confirm that prices will be reduced from January 2023,” he said.
“The Government’s EPG scheme will provide further savings and we welcome the additional support it is providing to our customers at this time.”
The announcement comes after a series of gas price increases this year.
Firmus Energy increased prices for customers by 56.3% in the Greater Belfast and Ten Towns network areas from October 3, in response to rises in wholesale gas prices after Russia reduced its gas flows via the key Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Europe by 80%.
Kevin Shiels, acting chief executive at the Utility Regulator, said the announcement offers some relief to gas consumers after a period when surging wholesale energy prices led to unprecedented increases in bills.
“As a regulator, we have always said that changes to consumer bills in Northern Ireland are not a one-way street,” he said.
“Our job is to make sure that consumer bills reflect the costs of providing the service, and we said we would act quickly should falling wholesale costs allow us to reduce bills.
“Recent and sustained falls in wholesale costs have allowed us to approve a fall in Firmus Energy’s tariffs.
“Firmus Energy’s announcement today will mean that the combined regulated electricity and gas bill in Ten Towns area will be £2,174 a year from January 1 2023. This compares to the price cap in Great Britain, where the combined electricity and gas bill for the average household will be £2,867 a year from 1 January 2023.
“Separate to the energy price guarantee support, we continue to work with the UK Government and local energy suppliers to ensure that the £400 Energy Bill Support Scheme and additional £200 payments are paid to Northern Ireland consumers quickly.
“At a local level, we will continue to use everything in our regulatory toolbox to support consumers.”