Utility Regulator comments on Firmus Energy’s regulated gas tariff increase

Gas bills for domestic and small business[i] consumers in the Ten Towns licence area will increase by 16.31% from 3 May 2022. This will mean that the average annual household gas bill[ii] will rise from £1,293 to £1,504 per year.

Commenting on the announcement, John French, Utility Regulator Chief Executive said:

“Wholesale energy prices rose rapidly in the second half of 2021, as global supplies did not keep pace with demand and as economies began to recover from Covid-19. Unfortunately, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has made this picture even starker. Although we are not directly reliant on Russian gas, it sets the price we pay.

“Following the Russian invasion on 24 February, Firmus Energy, in early March, provided the Utility Regulator with a submission to increase their regulated tariff. We have now finalised our analysis of this submission, following consultation with both the Department for the Economy and the Consumer Council for Northern Ireland. We have concluded that a 16.31% increase is now needed to reflect the harsh underlying market conditions.

“I completely recognise that this energy crisis is putting the most vulnerable in our society under considerable strain. I would therefore encourage anyone who is struggling with their bills to get in touch with their energy company as soon as they can. The regulatory process ensures that energy companies have clear obligations on how they act and how they provide support to consumers.

“We will continue to work with Government, industry and support agencies to do whatever we can to support consumers through this crisis, in one of the most challenging markets we have seen in our history.”

Further information on the support available to energy customers is available from NI Direct. Advice on saving energy in the home and information on energy efficiency grants is available from the NI Energy Advice service. 

A briefing paper has also been published. 

Media contact - Adele Boyle on 07787 279584.

Additional notes:

  • This tariff review commenced in early March 2022 and covers around 59,000 customers in the Ten Towns area.  
  • The average domestic credit customer will see their bills increase by around £211 per year and the average domestic bill will rise to £1504 per year.
  • The firmus energy standard tariff will be 43.5% above the GB default gas tariff cap level.  Both have VAT rates of 5%.
  • The firmus energy standard tariff will be 21.1% higher than the Bord Gais standard gas tariff in the RoI. This includes VAT at 13.5% in RoI and 5% in NI. Exchange rate of 0.84 used in calculation.
  • The Ten Towns and Greater Belfast areas are two separate markets, with different distribution network operators and different network use of system costs. 
  • The Ten Towns area refers to firmus energy’s distribution network and includes: Derry/Londonderry, Limavady, Coleraine (including Portstewart and Bushmills), Ballymoney, Ballymena (Broughshane), Antrim (including Ballyclare and Templepatrick), Craigavon (including Portadown and Lurgan), Banbridge, Newry (Warrenpoint), Armagh (Tandragee) and more than 25 other towns and villages in the surrounding area.

[i] Business customers using less than 2,500 therms per annum.

[ii] Average domestic customer using 12,000KwH per year