NIAER publishes details of full opening of the non-domestic electricity market

18 February 2005

With effect from 1 March 2005 any non-domestic electricity customer can be supplied by a licensed electricity supplier of their choice. You will be eligible to change supplier and hence are referred to as an eligible customer.

There is a standard process associated with switching supplier and information on this can be obtained from any of the suppliers listed on the Ofreg website. You should note that in order to switch supplier you will be required to install a half-hourly online meter (unless you are a Renewable Output Factor customer). It is important to bear in mind that you may have to wait a period of time before a meter can be installed. Your supplier should highlight any expected time delay between signing with them as your new supplier and meter installation.

NIAER issues licences to electricity suppliers to the eligible market and their details can be found on this website.  It is important to note that although suppliers are licensed by NIAER, the prices they charge are not regulated (with the exception of the NIE Public Electricity Supply business). Therefore the onus is on the customer and relevant supplier to arrive at a mutually acceptable contract. You should also bear in mind that eligible customers retain the option to remain with NIE as their electricity supplier.

The eligible supply market may operate in a different way from that in which you previously obtained your electricity. The eligible supply market is operated on a negotiated contractual basis between customer and supplier. Suppliers to the eligible sector are granted licences from NIAER. However they are entirely responsible for their own pricing policies and contractual arrangements.

When a supplier approaches you with a sales offer there are a number of important points you should bear in mind:

(1) similar to any contractual arrangement you enter into you should always read the small print and be aware of, for example ‘get-out’ penalties, price changes etc.

(2) the price quoted may change over the lifetime of your contract due to certain ‘pass-through’ elements and it is entirely up to each supplier how they incorporate these costs. The Public Service Obligation (PSO), System Support Service (SSS) and Use of System (UoS) levies are approved annually by NIAER and may hence vary over the duration of your contract. The small print in your contract may refer to the fact that the price you pay is dependent on these levies remaining fixed and if they increase your price will also increase. All customers are advised to ask the supplier representative to provide a comprehensive explanation of how the bill is constituted.

(3) NIAER does not impose deadlines or specify any timeframes within which contracts should be signed.

(4) there are a number of alternative suppliers you can choose from as described on this site, you can view these by clicking on this LINK and any particular supplier should not suggest that they are the only alternative to your current supplier.

(5) if you have concerns about the selling practices of an electricity supplier or the contractual terms offered you should contact the General Consumer Council by clicking on THIS LINK or by Tel: 0845 6016022

It is important to bear in mind that a change in electricity supplier does not in any way imply a change in the quality of supply which you will receive. Essentially if the Northern Ireland wide electricity supply is in difficulty, for example if there is a problem with a generating plant and some customers need to be interrupted, the choice of which customers are affected is in no way influenced by the electricity supplier a particular customer has. NIE will act in a non-discriminatory manner and will treat all customers equally irrespective of their supplier.

Details on further market opening can be obtained from this web site

Notes for Editors

OFREG (the Office for the Regulation of Electricity and Gas) supports the Northern Ireland Authority for Energy Regulation (NIAER) the regulator of the Electrcity and Gas industries in Northern Ireland. NIAER’s powers are derived from the Electricity (Northern Ireland) Order 1992, the Gas (Northern Ireland) Order 1996 both as amended by the Energy (Northern Ireland) Order 2003.

For further information contact Terry McErlane at Weber Shandwick Telephone 028 90761007 or 07770886911