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.
If you are worried about paying your electricity or gas bill, please ask for help as soon as possible. Information has been published on the NI Direct website with the suppport available to you.
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 that 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.
Are meters still being read?
Yes, meters are now currently being read. However, meter readers will not ask to enter your home to read indoor meters. When they call at your house, they will stop at the doorstep and, where possible, ask you to obtain a meter reading and call it out to them. If this is not possible then they will leave a card and arrange a call back.
Meter reading at outside meters will be carried out as normal.
Customers are encouraged to provide your own meter read to NIE Networks (automated meter reading service) or your supplier (if you are not sure how to do this, please contact your supplier).
Anyone who wishes to check the identity of someone who says they are calling to check gas, electricity or water supplies can call the Quick Check number on 101 to verify their identity.
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, contact your gas supplier so they can make arrangements to help you during these times. 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.
You can also get more information on your gas supply through the new Natural Gas NI website.
The Consumer Council have additional information and advice on their website.
What should I do if I’m struggling to pay my energy bill?
If you are worried about paying your gas and electricity bills due to the impact of Covid-19, help is available.
Contact your energy supplier - If you think you might have a problem paying a bill, it is best to contact your energy supplier as soon as possible.
Explore your payment options - Your supplier will work with you to agree a payment plan which will help you to avoid building up more debt.
Avail of free and confidential advice - Advice is available to anyone struggling to pay bills. The government sponsored Money Advice Service (part of the Money & Pensions Service) can help you find support. A range of options are available from their debt advice locator. More independent debt advice is also available from AdviceNI, who have a range of advice services.
Further information is available on the NI Direct website.
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.
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.
The Consumer Council is also available to provide free and independent advice and support. You can visit their website, email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 028 9025 1600.
Here are some additional links for advice and support:
Protect yourself about scams - https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/scams