Utility Regulator consults on boosting choice for Energy Consumers

Published: 23 April 2008

Consultation opened on 23 April 2008. Consultation closed 16 July 2008.

Summary

The Utility Regulator today announced the launch of a public consultation on ‘boosting choice for Northern Ireland’s electricity and gas customers.’

The Utility Regulator today announced the launch of a public consultation on ‘boosting choice for Northern Ireland’s electricity and gas customers.’

Launching the 12 week consultation, which ends on 16 July, Utility Regulator Chief Executive, Iain Osborne, said:

“Competition can deliver efficiency and choice, and the Utility Regulator is seeking views on how we can boost competition. Consumers want to choose their energy supplier, but at present there are no active competitors to the incumbent gas and electricity suppliers and households have no choice. ”

Currently, Northern Ireland households have one choice of electricity supplier, NIE. Phoenix Natural Gas is the only company currently supplying gas to Greater Belfast households, while firmus Energy supplies gas to ten towns throughout Northern Ireland.

As well as examining the potential barriers to competition, the consultation is seeking views on the Utility Regulator’s short-term and medium-term proposals for stimulating competition in the gas and electricity markets in Northern Ireland. These involve ensuring new entrants can get the information they need to approach consumers; reviewing the scope and structure of price controls to make sure they are not squeezing out competitors; and considering whether the incumbents should be required to provide some services for new entrants. In both electricity and gas, the Utility Regulator is considering opportunities to save money by working together with its Irish counterpart, the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER).

The consultation paper can be accessed directly or alternatively, a paper copy can be obtained from

Elena Ardines
Strategy branch
The Utility Regulator
Queens House
14 Queen Street
Belfast
BT1 6ER

E-mail: elena.ardines@niaur.gov.uk.

Copies of the document will be made available in large print, Braille, audio cassette and a variety of relevant minority languages if required.
Responses to the questions and issues raised in this paper should be sent, on or before 12pm on 16 July 2007, preferably in electronic format to Elena.ardines@niaur.gov.uk or in paper format to Elena Ardines at bthe above address. Respondents should indicate clearly if any part of their response should be treated confidentially. Unless marked as confidential all responses may be published.

Although the 16th of July is the deadline for responses, should respondents wish to, we would welcome responses earlier than that date. This would allow us more time to engage directly with respondents on their comments during the remainder of the time up to 16th July, and where necessary meet directly with respondents to discuss key comments made.

Notes to Editors

1. The Northern Ireland Authority for Utility Regulation (the Utility Regulator) is the non-Ministerial Government Department responsible for regulating the electricity and gas industries and water and sewerage services in Northern Ireland.
2. firmus Energy holds the gas conveyance and supply licences to supply five towns of Londonderry, Limavady, Coleraine, Ballymoney and Ballymena along the routes of the North-West pipeline, and the five towns of Antrim, Craigavon, Armagh, Banbridge and Newry along the route of the South-North pipeline.

Media contact - Greg Irwin (0779) 4335860.

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