The Gas Regulator, Mr Douglas McIldoon said today that recent comments about gas prices have been misleading.
In a move to reassure gas customers, Mr McIldoon stated:
“I have been listening to comments about gas price increases that are very wide of the mark…
“I would now like to put the record straight. The agreement I have with Phoenix about domestic prices is for an average increase of 3% nominal this year and below inflation increases for the next three years. This means that in 2003 domestic customers will pay less for gas in real terms than they did in 1997.
“The standing charge, which was a subsidy of customers with a large consumption by customers whose consumption was below average, has been abolished. Its abolition was a major step forward but it was inevitable that ending the standing charge would give above average increases to larger and in general, more affluent customers.
“None of the charges oblige any customer to take a 27% price increase. Quite the contrary - the low user tariff contains a lot of additional value for customers which can transform this particular tariff into a reduced household energy bill, saving customers at least £30 a year.
“At a time when world market forces are inflicting a lot of increased cost on consumers and in particular on consumers in Northern Ireland – who are more vulnerable to energy price movements than those in other parts of the United Kingdom – the three year price guarantee that Phoenix have been able to give of below inflation price increase should be welcomed by everyone as the only “good news” energy story currently around.”
Ofreg has been responsible for regulating Phoenix Natural Gas since 1996.
Between 1996 and 2000 gas prices for domestic customers have not risen. In September 2000 they will rise by 3% average. In September 2001 and September 2002 prices will not rise by more than the rate of inflation i.e. they will not rise in real terms.
For further information or to arrange an interview with Douglas McIldoon, please contact Nick Carson on 028 9127 5965 or 07711 482807