25 August 2011
25th August 2011: Following the price increase announced by Power NI, Airtricity confirms that, while it has little option but to track the price increase, it will stand by its commitment to customers to offer significant discounts of up to 14% against the new Power NI regulated standard prices.
A message from Kevin Greenhorn, Airtricity Chief Executive:
“In these difficult times any saving is important, and while Airtricity very much regrets the need to increase our prices, we are committed to retaining significant discounts for our customers and to offering real choice and substantial savings on electricity bills. The need for increased prices is due to the large increase in wholesale prices driven by the global energy markets.
Scottish and Southern Energy supplies 10 million customers in Great Britain and, through Airtricity, we have brought competition and lower prices to the regulated Northern Ireland electricity market now and into the future.”
Questions & Answers:
Changes to your prices.
Why are prices increasing?
There has been a significant increase in wholesale energy prices and pass-through charges (charges which we collect on behalf of NIE T&D – the Networks business in Northern Ireland). While we have done our best to absorb these costs, we can no longer do so.
Why are wholesale energy prices going up?
Events such as the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the political upheaval in the Middle East and longer-term trends such as the fast-increasing energy needs of the Asian economies have all contributed to the rise in wholesale energy prices. As a result, winter wholesale gas prices have increased by 30% year-on-year.
Why do international markets affect your prices?
Almost all of Northern Ireland’s gas, which is the primary source of electricity generation, is bought on external international markets. We are buying in a global market and so we are increasingly exposed to the turmoil of these markets and have to pay the market rates.
How this affects you.
What is the impact of the price increase?
From 1st October, Power NI (formerly NIE Energy) standard rates will increase. Airtricity will continue to track these new Power NI prices. All Airtricity discounts are unaffected; however the unit rates will change. Our new discounted prices will be published on our website Airtricity.com as soon as possible after the price increase announced by Power NI, and we will also be communicating the increase directly to all of our customers.
I have a credit meter – will my prices be affected?
Your unit rates will increase, but you’ll continue to pay up to 14% less than Power NI’s increased standard rate, depending on your tariff.
I have a keypad / prepayment meter – will my prices be affected?
Your unit rates will increase, but you’ll continue to pay an additional 10% less than Power NI’s increased keypad rates.
I signed up to a fixed term contract with Airtricity, how does this price increase affect me?
If you chose one of our fixed term products, your unit rates will increase but your discounts are guaranteed for the remainder of the term.
Help with managing your bills.
How can I reduce my bills and manage the payments?
There are a number of ways you can reduce your energy bills and manage the payments.
- Switch to Direct Debit and eBilling. Make sure you are getting the best discounts by paying by Direct Debit and receiving your bills online.
- Spread your costs. In addition to getting the Direct Debit discount, you have the freedom to pay what you can when you can – you simply pay the balance by direct debit. Instead of paying in one lump sum, you can contact our customer service team on 0845 601 9093 to make smaller, regular Top-Up payments using any of our payment methods such as paying by debit card or you can pay make Top-Up payments through your bank
- Submit regular meter reads. If you are a credit meter customer, providing meter reads helps to ensure your bills are as accurate as possible, you only pay for the energy you use and you don’t build up debt. We can send you a reminder by email and/or text before your bill is issued.
- Energy Efficiency. There are lots of simple ways to reduce your energy usage and costs. Small changes in the way you use energy can make a big difference to size of your energy bills as well as to your CO2 emissions. To see a range of our simple energy efficiency tips visit our energy efficiency page.
I’m having problems paying, what should I do?
If you are having problems paying your bills, you should contact us straight away. Delaying and allowing debt to build up will only make the problem worse. We can work out a plan for you to pay off your balance in regular amounts you can afford.
What commitments are we making to you?
- We’ll continue to offer significant discounts on regulated electricity prices. We are still tracking Power NI (formerly NIE Energy) regulated prices and maintaining the same level of discounts. We’re committed to offering real choice and significant savings. That is why we are offering customers switching to Airtricity two-year fixed-term discounts that guarantee 14% savings in Year 1 and 8% savings in Year 2 on new Power NI rates – equivalent to a typical saving of £149 on Power NI prices*. In fact, if every household in Northern Ireland switched on to cheaper energy from Airtricity the consumer savings would total almost £100million in the coming year†.
- We’ll continue to work hard at finding ways to help you. We can now offer you significant savings on keypad/prepayment meter prices, allowing you to pay for energy on an as-needed-basis. We’ll always look for more new and convenient ways that you can pay.
- We’ll continue to offer flexible payment options, helping you to budget and spread your costs. We encourage our customers to make top-up payments of any amount at any time, to spread costs and still benefit from our direct debit discount.
- We help you to only pay for the energy you use and provide a free meter read alert service for credit meter customers. Submitting regular meter reads will help ensure your bills are accurate – so you only pay for the energy you are using and avoid building up debt.
- We’ll always work with you to help you manage your bills. If you are having problems paying, you can talk to us in confidence. The earlier you contact us, the quicker we can help you with a payment plan that suits you so you can avoid building up debt.
Issued by Jason Cooke, Head of Communications, Airtricity
T: 028 90 436883
Notes to editors:
- Airtricity is Northern Ireland’s fastest-growing electricity supply brand and now supplies over 60,000 home and business customers with cheaper electricity.
- Airtricity was the first energy utility to enter Northern Ireland’s competitive domestic electricity supply market in June 2010.
- Airtricity is a wholly-owned division of the Top-40 FTSE listed and Perth, Scotland, based company Scottish and Southern Energy plc. The broadest-based energy utility in Great Britain and Ireland with over 21,000 employees, Scottish and Southern Energy supplies electricity, gas and home services to over 10 million homes and businesses. Scottish and Southern Energy is proud to be rated as No. 1 for customer service.
- Scottish and Southern Energy, through Airtricity, has made a very real and significant investment into doing business in Northern Ireland. Airtricity’s energy supply business in Northern Ireland has an operating turnover in excess of £100million and growing. Airtricity employs almost 150 full time and contractor roles in Northern Ireland to support its growing domestic and commercial electricity supply business.
*Savings based on customers switching from Power NI Quarterly-billed Home Energy rate to Airtricity Home Electricity Saver 24 2-Year Fixed Term discount product (direct debit and eBill).
†Calculations based on a typical household consumption of 4,500 kWh per annum, and all NI credit meter customers switching to Airtricity Home Electricity Saver 24 product (direct debit and eBill) and all NI prepaid meter customers switching to Airtricity Pay-as-you-go KeyPad Meter product.