Retail and Consumer Protection
The Retail and Consumer Protection Directorate, formerly known as Retail and Social Directorate, was created in 2009.
The term “retail” is used to refer to the supply side of the electricity and gas markets. Electricity and gas are purchased from the wholesale market and transported to businesses and homes through the electricity and gas networks. Retailers or suppliers are the companies that purchase the gas or electricity on the wholesale market and pay the transportation costs before selling it at a final total price to consumers.
In 2011, the Directorate’s remit was expanded to include social issues, which were previously covered by a different part of the organisation.
Our focus is mainly on retail competition and consumer protection and covers the following areas:
* Regulation of Northern Ireland’s gas and electricity supply markets. This includes conducting price controls on supply companies (i.e. Power NI) and tariff reviews (in the electricity sector), harmonisation of systems, market monitoring and addressing entry barriers.
* Consumer protection and empowerment issues, such as research, supplier obligations and marketing, consumer confusion and services for vulnerable consumers.