Gas and electric prices: Energy bill cuts come into effect for NI customers

Woman adjusts radiator
Energy bills take a step in the right direction but prices remain well above pre-pandemic levels [Getty Images]

Energy bills are taking a step in the right direction but prices remain well above pre-pandemic levels.

Wholesale natural gas prices have fallen sharply since they peaked after Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

This reduction in cost is now starting to feed through to consumer prices.

However, many households and businesses in Northern Ireland will still be struggling with cost pressures.

Electricity prices

Electric plug, UK
Northern Ireland's largest electricity supplier Power NI is cutting its prices by 6.3% [BBC]

From 1 April, Northern Ireland's largest electricity supplier Power NI is cutting its prices by 6.3%.

The company says this will save the average household £63 per year.

It serves 500,000 household customers and cut its prices three times during 2023.

Last month, the second largest supplier SSE Airtricity cut its price for Northern Ireland customers by 6.3%.

The move affected about 141,000 homes with the company saying it will save the typical household about £74 a year.

Budget Energy also cut its electricity prices by 9% in March.

The company, which has about 80,000 customers across Northern Ireland, cited the reduction in wholesale energy costs.

It added that this would mean a saving of around £110 a year for household customers.

Gas tariff changes

A blue flame on a gas hob
SSE Airtricity says cuts will save a typical household customer £320.47 per year [Getty Images]

SSE Airtricity, Northern Ireland's largest provider of natural gas, will cut its prices by 22.8% from April.

The company says it will save a typical household customer £320.47 per year.

Firmus Energy has also announced it will cut its prices by 15.6% from April.

This move means household customers will save on average around £220.82 per year.

It is the fourth price cut for households in the Ten Towns Network area and the third reduction in Greater Belfast since December 2022.

The Ten Towns area includes Antrim, Armagh, Banbridge, Ballymena, Coleraine, Craigavon, Newry, Londonderry and many other towns.

'Good news, not great'

Peter McClenaghan from the Northern Ireland Consumer Council said the price cuts were "good news for consumers" but warned "we're still in a relatively high cost environment".

"It's not great news, but it's good news," Mr McClenaghan told BBC's Evening Extra programme.

He said energy prices in Northern Ireland remain "significantly higher" than before the Covid-19 pandemic.

"I don't think we'll be there for a while.... [it's] not great for consumers that are still feeling the pinch."

Electric meter with pound coin
Consumers are reminded to continue comparing energy suppliers' prices [Getty Images]

Mr McClenaghan added it was "really important that people don't take their eye off the ball" by continuing to compare energy suppliers.

"Consumers should consider switching," he said. "You can save hundreds of pounds."

He has advised householders to compare energy prices on the Consumer Council's website.

How do prices compare with GB and Ireland?

The Utility Regulator said these latest price cuts will mean a typical annual electricity bill at Power NI is £951, which is cheaper than both Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland.

A typical annual gas bill of £1,079 for SSE Airtricity and £1,151 for Firmus energy is more expensive than the average bill in Great Britain (£891), but less expensive than the Republic of Ireland (£1,359).