David Ford said: “At this time of economic hardship, any price increase to consumers is to be regretted.
“I recognise that Firmus has held gas prices steady for three years at a time of rising costs. They deserve credit for this. Further, the 20% increase now proposed is less than the price increase for many other energy suppliers, including gas suppliers throughout these islands. However, the company has a duty to continue to work to hold down prices for commercial and domestic consumers.
“The proposals to assist older consumers and disabled people living alone, through Firmus care, is very welcome. It is recognition that energy provision is not just a commercial activity, but also has a social responsibility.
“I recently met senior staff of Firmus and discussed their future plans, including the development of renewable energy. This would have a positive effect on consumer prices, as well as greatly enhancing consumer security, and I look forward to progress in the coming months.”