Stewart Dickson MLA said: “Gas prices in the rest of the UK were cut at the end of January which means customers will see the benefits of cheaper energy during the coldest period of the year. It is therefore disappointing that the Enterprise Minister has confirmed that Northern Ireland customers will only see a drop in their gas bills from April, when gas usage is generally much lower, this only reinforces the oft-said phrase: ‘Energy prices rise like a rocket and fall like a feather’.
“The Enterprise Minister and the Utility Regulator should be doing more to ensure that companies reduce their prices in the winter, when customers’ pockets would see the greatest benefit.
“It is scandalous that Northern Ireland is acting so slowly to bring down prices when customers in the rest of the UK are already benefiting from lower bills. A lack of competition in the market seems to be encouraging stable, but high prices. Without choice the market will never work for consumers, therefore Minister Foster must do more to encourage more suppliers and competitors into the domestic market.”
To ask the Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment what efforts are being made to ensure that reductions in the wholesale price of natural gas are being passed on to domestic customers.
The Utility Regulator is currently engaged in a review of regulated gas tariffs in respect of Airtricity Gas Supply (for the Greater Belfast area) and firmus energy (for the Ten Towns area). It is expected that these reviews will conclude soon to allow any changes to gas bills to take effect from 1 April 2015.