22/05/2013

NI Electricity Bills To Rise By 18%

Electricity bills in Northern Ireland are to rise by 18% from 1 July.

Power NI said the increase is due to the rising wholesale costs.

The latest price hike means the average domestic bill will increase by around £90 a year. Small businesses and farmers also face an 18% hike.

The increase will add an extra £1.73 per week in electricity for the average household or £5.33 for a typical small business owner.

Stephen McCully, Managing Director of Power NI, said: "We regret having to make the difficult decision to increase prices, especially since we cut prices by over 14% last October. Prices are roughly back to what they were in 2011, since the previous cut is unfortunately now cancelled out.

"The fact is that so much is dependent upon world fuel costs, which are outside our control and which have a volatile effect on the price we pay for wholesale electricity.

"There is never a good time to increase prices and it is something we do reluctantly."

Power NI, which serves 620,000 customers throughout the region said it cut its prices last year at a time when other providers increased their rates.

However, there are concerns that this latest rise will hit a lot of families and businesses.

Glyn Roberts of the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association (NIIRTA) said the price hike was "very disappointing".

He said: "This is a small business economy, so this will hit our economy very hard.

"An 18% increase, it's very hard for a small business to budget for that sort of whopping hike. For many of our members in the retail sector they are already paying high costs with things like refrigeration that's vital to their business.

"We are also concerned that the similar increase on domestic customers will also result in less disposable income and will have a negative impact on spending in our local retail sector.

"They'll be waking up this morning very depressed at the news."

(JP/CD)

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