Northern Ireland business could see energy price cuts

Businesses in Northern Ireland could see their electricity bills cut over the next five years if new proposals from the NI utility regulator are given the green light.

However, over the same period Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE) had told the regulator that it will need to add around £128 per year on to domestic bills to cover basic maintenance and improvements to the network.

NIE is responsible for the lines and substation network which provides power directly to homes and business premises and due to them being the only firm which looks after the power network in Northern Ireland, the regulator has little choice but to approve any price hikes it makes.

Proposed network improvements from NIE would also mean that bills for small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will go up by approximately £452 over the next five years.

However, instead of allowing this price jump to go through, regulator Shane Lynch has put forward a proposal which will actually see business energy costs reduced

NIE now has a three month deadline to publish a response to the call before the regulator forces a final pricing structure through.

A spokesperson for NIE, the network company, told the BBC: “NIE’s plans for RP5 reflect its focus on delivering an electricity network that is fit for future needs and provides value for money for customers.

“We will review the utility regulator’s draft determination and submit our response by the due date, 19 July. Our response will comprehensively address all issues raised in the draft determination.”

NIE recently completed a £20 million investment project to build new overhead power lines between Omagh and Magherakeel.

The 38 kilometres of line will carry renewable power to homes and companies in the west of the region.