Utility Regulator launches new switching guide

24 August 2017

Over half a million switches have taken place in the domestic electricity market since the first competitor entered the market in June 2010. To help more people benefit from switching supplier, the Utility Regulator has launched a new ‘How To’ leaflet detailing the key information around switching electricity and gas supplier.

The leaflet is part of the Utility Regulator’s five-year Consumer Protection Strategy, launched last year, which is aimed at providing long term protection to domestic energy and water consumers in Northern Ireland.

Speaking about the leaflet, Jenny Pyper, Chief Executive of the Utility Regulator said:

“The domestic electricity market has come a long way in seven years. Since June 2010, over 571,000[i] consumers have switched their domestic electricity supplier. What we have now really is a consumer’s market, with five suppliers to choose from and both customer standards and customer protection increased.

“By switching electricity or gas supplier, most domestic consumers will make savings on their bills. This is good news, but we understand that some people find switching supplier daunting, especially for those with no access to or not overly familiar with using the internet.

“In terms of consumer protection, which is at the heart of what we do, we have built a strong foundation both through our regulation and through work with the suppliers. As the market grows, we must ensure that this high level of consumer protection continues, and that’s where our Consumer Protection Strategy comes in. This leaflet, which is a key part of the strategy, will help consumers understand the process involved in switching supplier and the benefits they will get.”

The leaflet was prepared in conjunction with the Consumer Council, which offer independent advice and support to consumers wanting to switch gas or electricity supplier. Commenting on the leaflet, John French, Chief Executive of the Consumer Council said:

“The Consumer Council strongly encourages all consumers to actively shop around for the best possible deal for their electricity and gas. This leaflet, along with our website’s interactive energy price comparison tool will simply show consumers how and where they can save money – visit www.consumercouncil.org.uk.

“Around, 1,300 households use our website each week to find the best energy deal. The tool shows that a typical electricity consumer could currently save up to £86 per year by switching provider. The biggest savings come when you switch not only your supplier but also your payment method. 

“If any consumers would like advice on switching energy provider contact our Consumer Protection Team on 0800 121 6022.”

Jenny Pyper, Utility Regulator concluded:

“Whilst the natural gas market is smaller than the electricity market, it too is developing quickly with work ongoing in East Down and in the West of Northern Ireland to enable consumers in those areas to connect to the gas network. Since November 2010, when domestic competition started in the Greater Belfast area, over 52,000[ii] gas switches have taken place.

“Following the announcement that Power NI’s prices are increasing by 5.6% on 1 October, it is of even more importance that consumers shop around with all the suppliers to explore all the options available to them.” 

If you would like a leaflet posted to you, please contact the Utility Regulator on 028 9031 1575. The leaflet will also be available at Citizens Advice offices and from the Consumer Council. 

For further information, please contact Adele Boyle on 028 9031 6664 or 07787 279584.

[i] From June 2010 – June 2017

[ii] From November 2010 – June 2017