With the domestic energy market in Great Britain under constant scrutiny, it may be interesting to see how things compare for consumers in Northern Ireland.
The NI retail energy market is completely separate from GB, with different suppliers. Furthermore, unlike in GB, an independently regulated tariff is available for all domestic electricity and natural gas consumers.
Competition in domestic electricity began in June 2010 and we now have six suppliers. However, with 64 per cent of customers, Power NI dominates the market and consequently has its domestic tariff regulated. This provides transparency and gives consumers confidence that the price is fair. For competing suppliers it provides them with a price they must beat to have any hope of attracting new customers. Power NI last increased its electricity prices in July 2013 and with suppliers undercutting them, switching has doubled from 5.7 per cent in 2014 to 11.3 per cent in 2015.
That is the good news. But unfortunately there is no supplier offering a dual fuel tariff. So while domestic electricity and natural gas prices compare well with GB on their own, NI consumers cannot get the lower prices that GB customers can on dual fuel.
The Consumer Council promotes consumer choice and price savings through competition. In June we launched our independent energy price comparison website, which compares every available tariff with a consumer’s current tariff. See www.consumercouncil.co.uk.