27/05/2010

Competition Sparks Northern Power Market

A Republic of Ireland energy firm will begin selling power to households in Northern Ireland in June.

Airtricity will be the first company to compete with NIE Energy in the domestic electricity market.

The Stormont Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster and Airtricty Managing Director, Kevin Greenhorn announced its entry into the NI consumer electricity market on Tuesday.

The Minister said: "This is welcome news for domestic electricity customers, who for the first time will be able to choose their electricity supplier."

The electricity market in Northern Ireland has actually been fully opened to competition since 1 November 2007, and while there has been customer switching in the business sector, domestic customers have had no alternative to NIE Energy, as their electricity supplier.

Arlene Foster continued: "The announcement by Airtricity is proof that the Single Electricity Market has delivered transparency and increased electricity supply competition for domestic customers, in Northern Ireland.

"Customers will be able to compare electricity costs and levels of service being offered before choosing their electricity supplier," she said.

The Dublin-based company claimed that its entry into the NI market will create 75 jobs, a number that it said will rise as its business grows.

The firm also said it is expected that it will initially undercut prices by about 14% and that the discount is expected to stay in place for at least 12 months and will cut the average household bill from £500 to £430.

A spokesperson for the existing generator NIE said that it recognised a new entrant to the domestic market gave customers more choice.

"We have been preparing for a more competitive environment for some time. Last year we reduced our prices by 15% and we are due to make another pricing announcement within the next few months."

(BMcC/GK)

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