We regulate the electricity, gas, water and sewerage industries in Northern Ireland. Our work focusses on protecting consumers and in this current situation that has never been more important.
Electricity, gas and water network companies have plans in place to ensure continued supply of electricity, gas and water to homes and businesses.
Provided below is some key information for consumers. It covers managing your supply if you are self-isolating at home (such as prepayment energy meter top ups), what to do if you have a supply issue and information on what to expect from your supplier. We have also published a document which contains additional information you may find useful.
For up to date information on Covid-19 guidance, please visit the Public Health Agency NI’s website.
What is the Utility Regulator doing in relation to electricity, gas and water during this outbreak
We are working closely with government, other stakeholders and the electricity, gas and water industries to ensure all are taking the necessary steps to serve consumers, particularly people in vulnerable circumstances and people who may need to self-isolate at home.
Will Covid 19 arrangements affect my energy and water supply?
No, there is no immediate risk to your energy or water supply.
Who do I contact if there is an interruption to my supply (for example there is a power cut)?
If you experience a power cut, you can phone NIE Networks on 03457 643 643 or visit their website for further information.
If there is a problem with your gas supply, you should contact your supplier.
If you smell gas or suspect a gas leak then you should contact the Northern Ireland gas emergency number 0800 002 001.
For water related issues, please contact NI Water or 03457 440088 or visit their website.
Your electricity, gas and water supplier will be able to deal with any queries you may have, including questions about your bill or additional support you may require. If you (or someone you know) is in a vulnerable position of pensionable age, has a disability, or chronic illness it is important you let your (or their) energy supplier know. Each Supplier also keeps a Customer Care Register of people who may require additional assistance. This service is free to all consumers who are eligible.
Are meters still being read?
No, this activity has stopped during the current situation.
Customers are encouraged to provide your own reads to NIE networks (automated meter reading service) or your supplier (if you are not sure how to do this, please contact your supplier).
How do I top up my electricity or gas meter if I’m self-isolating?
Electricity suppliers offer automated top-up options via online or over the phone. We encourage you to top up online if you are able to use this option.
If you have a gas prepayment meter and are unable to top up, you may want to arrange for a trusted person to take your gas top-up card to the shop if needed. If your gas meter box is outside, you may also have to arrange for the trusted person to unlock your meter box in order to top-up. Make a list of trusted neighbours, friends and family who live nearby, and might be able to top up your card and meter if you cannot leave your home.
You can also refer to the most up to date guidance on your Supplier’s website or use the following link on the Consumer Council’s website.
Suppliers should tell you what customer service support is available, particularly if you are vulnerable and how you might get further advice and/or support if you can’t top up or could go off supply.
We are also working with the Department for the Economy, CCNI and the Department for Communities to enable gas prepayment consumers who are self-isolating or ill to access local community support to help them top up their meter.
The Consumer Council have additional information and advice on their website.
What should I do if I’m struggling to pay my energy bill?
You should contact your energy supplier for support and advice. Suppliers are committed to working sympathetically with their customers on a case by case basis if they are experiencing difficulty paying their bills at this time. Your Supplier must take into account how much you can afford, and will explain your options. They can also refer you to other advice giving agencies.
Information on the employment and financial support announced on 20 March is available on www.gov.uk. This includes the Universal Credit, Employment and Support Allowance and your rights if your hours are cut or you are laid off.
Who do I contact if I don’t know who my domestic electricity or gas supplier is?
For electricity, if you have your meter point number (known as an MPRN a 17 digit number), which you can also find on a bill, you can contact NIE Networks to check who the supplier is.
Gas is slightly different as it is split into three different distribution areas. If you live in the Greater Belfast area, your supplier will either be SSE Airtricity Gas Supply or firmus energy. If you live in the Ten Towns area, your gas supplier is firmus energy and in the West of Northern Ireland, your supplier will be SSE Airtricity Gas Supply.
You can also contact the suppliers directly and you’ll find a full list of all the electricity and gas suppliers on our website including contact numbers and email addresses. If your issues are non-urgent please use email and web chat as telephone lines will be busier than usual and priority will be given to vulnerable customers.
NI Water is the only water company in Northern Ireland.
Here are some additional links for advice and support:
Protect yourself about scams - https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/scams