Firmus gas customers in Derry and Limavady hit with 35% price rise
Firmus gas customers across Derry and Limavady and other regions of the north are to be hit by a 35% price hike from next month.
The Utility Regulator said the increase will mean gas bills for domestic the average annual household will rise from £518 to £701 per year.
The move comes as a result of the increase in world gas wholesale prices and will see natural gas prices return to 2018 /2019 levels.
As a result natural gas tariffs in the Ten Towns Network area will increase by 35.15% from the 1st October 2021.
The change in tariff will mean an extra £3.33 per week on to the average household bill.
Firmus said that since the start of April 2021, global gas commodity prices have increased by 170%. Throughout 2019 and 2020 firmus energy was able to cut its prices, totalling 37%, leading to historic low tariffs.
The Ten Towns Network area includes Derry, Limavady Antrim, Armagh, Ballymena, Ballymoney, Banbridge, Coleraine, Craigavon (including Lurgan and Portadown), and Newry, and more than 25 other towns and villages in the surrounding areas.
Customers in the Greater Belfast area however will not be impacted by today’s announcement, although an announcement regarding tariffs in this area is expected in the coming weeks.
Michael Scott, Managing Director of firmus energy, said: “We are very sorry to have to make this announcement as the last thing we want is to have to increase our prices. However, given the massive increases in the cost of purchasing natural gas on the global markets, it is simply unavoidable, as these costs are totally beyond our control.
“With the world starting to reopen again, following the Covid-19 restrictions, this is leading to increased demand for natural gas and that has been driving the prices up at alarming rates. As normality returns, we expect prices to begin to stabilise again.
“Any increase is never welcome, and we know this will come at a particularly difficult time for many. Although we understand that gas prices across the UK and Ireland are likely to increase due to the global fluctuations, we appreciate this will be of little comfort to our customers.
“We want to assure our customers that we will continue to monitor and review our tariffs to ensure customers are getting the best prices possible. As soon as we can lower our prices again, we will do so without delay”.
“We are fully committed to working with consumer bodies to best support our customers, especially in the forthcoming winter months”.
Commenting on the announcement, John French, Utility Regulator Chief Executive said: “This announcement unfortunately reflects the unprecedented increases in international wholesale energy markets. Wholesale gas prices continue to break record levels. Currently, the cost of wholesale gas has risen by 170% since the start of April 2021.
“While we have no power to compel a company to sell energy for less than it costs, we have fully scrutinised Firmus Energy’s submission. This has been carried out in consultation with the Department for the Economy and the Consumer Council, and ensures that the company’s submission accurately reflects the costs they have incurred.
“To try and reduce the impact of this increase, we brought forward our review of their network tariffs which has enabled a 4.5% or a £20 reduction in Firmus Energy’s original application. The final agreed increase therefore will be 35.15% or £183 per year for the average household.
“As a result of this increase, the average domestic gas bill in the Ten Towns area will rise to £701 per year. For comparison, an annual average household gas bill in GB is £625 per year and £782 per year in the Republic of Ireland.
“As the table below shows, the average annual domestic gas bill in the Ten Towns licence area fell during the Covid-19 pandemic. However, due to the increases in wholesale energy costs, the average bill has risen back to prices previously seen in 2018.”
Customers seeking advice on their natural gas bills or direct debit payments should contact the firmus energy Customer Services team on 0330 024 9000. Our telephone lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
For free and independent advice on how to save energy please contact NI Energy Advice Line on 0800 111 4455.