Firmus Energy has announced a 37% increase in its natural gas prices in its Greater Belfast network area, affecting around 47,000 domestic customers in Northern Ireland.
The company said the price increases will take effect from May 3 and mean the average household bill for affected customers will rise by around £6.25 a week.
This means that the annual gas bill for a typical household with a meter on credit will increase by around £330 per year.
The Greater Belfast network area covers Belfast, Lisburn, Bangor, Holywood, Donaghadee, Larne, Groomsport, Millisle, Newtownards, Carryduff, Comber, Newtownabbey, Carrickfergus and East Down.
Firmus said it would not affect those in the Ten Towns Network area across Northern Ireland.
The company’s acting chief executive, Niall Martindale, said the war in Ukraine had “affected negatively” energy markets.
“This was reflected across the board with increases in the costs of heating oil, coal, electricity and gas,” he said.
“Unfortunately, the magnitude of the increased costs involved gives us no alternative but to pass on to our customers the higher costs we have to pay for the gas we supply.
“Firmus Energy is committed to reducing its tariff for all customers as soon as the market crisis subsides and allows us to do so.
“We understand that these are difficult times for many of our customers and we have provided financial and administrative support to the Ministry of Communities program to help those who need it most.
“If any of our customers need further assistance, I urge them to call our dedicated local team to see if we can help.”
The Northern Ireland Consumer Council said it was “particularly bad news for vulnerable consumers and low-income households”.
Raymond Gormley, head of energy policy at the Consumer Council, added: “While this price increase was expected due to continued increases in global wholesale gas costs and after seeing price increases from firmus energy Ten Towns and SSE Airtricity Belfast, this does not make it any less difficult for households to absorb.
“The global increase in wholesale prices, exacerbated by the conflict in Ukraine, follows well-publicized increases in the costs of heating oil, coal, electricity, groceries and transportation fuel.
“Unlike consumers on the Ten Towns network, gas consumers in the Greater Belfast area have the option of switching supplier and the Consumer Council encourages customers to check they have the best deal before 2 May 2022, the date on which the opt-out period ends. It is also worth checking whether you are on the cheapest electricity tariff.
“We encourage anyone who is having trouble paying their energy bills or recharging their meters to contact their supplier directly for help and information. We also encourage consumers to think about ways to reduce their energy costs through energy efficiency, changing energy supplier or changing the billing method.
“We call on Firmus Energy and the energy industry at large to commit to continue financially supporting an energy hardship program in the coming fiscal year.
“Longer term, it is clear that energy companies, policy makers, the utility regulator, charities and the Consumer Council must continue to work together to develop sustainable solutions to help support those in need. need, because the problem of high energy prices will probably be with us for the foreseeable future.
They added that their phone lines are open 24/7, with free, independent advice on how to save energy available on the NI Energy Advice Line on 0800 111 4455.
Consumers can also contact the Consumer Council for free independent advice by calling the freephone number 0800 121 6022 or emailing [email protected]