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NI families face gas bill hike

Many residents of Northern Ireland are facing higher gas bills after energy provider Firmus said it was increasing prices

man shocked worried at energy bill

The average gas bill is expected to rise by as much as £50 per annum

The unwelcome price increase will impact those who live in what is known as the Ten Towns region, which incorporates 21 areas on the outskirts of, and around, Belfast.

It is estimated that these increases will affect 20,000 homes in total, with the average gas bill likely to rise by as much as £50 per year – bad news for consumers who will now be looking at how they will heat their homes through winter.

From October 1st, 20,000 residents will see their bills increase by what is essentially £1 per week.

Those residents living in the affected region will see a 14.4% increase in what they pay for their gas. Meanwhile, people in the Greater Belfast area will be unaffected – they were subjected to a 9% increase in their own gas bills earlier this year.

Provider blames rises on competing sources

Firmus Energy said the discrepancy in price rises is due to the fact that its natural gas resources come from two different locations in the country. While one is owned and operated by Firmus, the other in Greater Belfast is in the hands of Phoenix Natural Gas.

A spokeswoman said: “Firmus Energy supplies gas to homes and businesses in both of these networks.

“In greater Belfast, where the market is open, the dominant supplier is Airtricity and we offer a competitive price against them.

“In its own network area, Firmus Energy is currently the exclusive supplier to small business and domestic users and in accordance with its licence operates on a no profit/no loss basis with any surplus revenues going back into paying off the cost of developing the network.”

Middle East unrest ‘causing price surges’

The company went on to say that current oil prices in the Middle East are to blame for the impending rise.

General Manager Michael Scott, said: “Coupled with the ongoing unrest around the Middle East, surges in the price of oil and gas on the wholesale market have been so significant that we are unable to continue to absorb them.”

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