Businesses and households across the province are facing higher electricity bills from October 1, as supplier Power NI has announced it is to increase prices by 5.6%.
It said the first rise in four years was regrettable but stressed the average increase would equate to £2 a month.
Non-domestic customers on Power NI’s most popular SME business and farm tariffs will also see a similar increase. The increase will add around £2 a week to a small business which has bills of £500 a quarter.
The impact for larger users on personalised contracts will vary depending on the type of contract.
Even with the rise, managing director Stephen McCully said Power NI prices would still be significantly below the main suppliers in GB, the Republic of Ireland and across Europe.
The price rise is due to increases in the costs of producing electricity, such as the cost of fuel used in power stations.
This will be the first increase since 2013 and has been agreed with the Utility Regulator.
“We have not increased our prices since 2013, so it is particularly disappointing for us that we have to do so now,” Mr McCully said.
“So much is dependant upon world fuel costs, which are outside our control and which have an effect on the price we pay for wholesale electricity.”
Jenny Pyper, Utility Regulator chief executive said the decision to approve the rise was taken in light of an 11% rise in wholesale energy costs:
“We carry out extensive scrutiny of Power NI’s costs to ensure that any change to their tariff is justified,” she said.
“Even after this tariff increase, Northern Ireland will continue to have amongst the lowest domestic electricity prices in the UK and RoI.
“Power NI’s average annual domestic bill will be around 22% cheaper than the GB average annual bill and around 30% cheaper than the ROI average annual bill”.
FSB NI policy chair, Wilfred Mitchell said the announcement was bad news for small business at what was already a time a great uncertainty.
“Rising costs are already having to be absorbed by business owners, making it increasingly difficult for them to invest, expand and create jobs; this price hike will undoubtedly have a negative impact on economic growth,” he said.
“Measures such as progressing the North South Interconnector need to be developed and expedited to help increase efficiency and competition.”