Statement On Competition Commissions Determination On NIE Price Control
Manufacturing NI has welcomed the Final Determination from the Competition and Markets Authority on the Price Control on Northern Ireland Electricity. Having taken time to digest the report and receiving clarity from the Utility Regulator, we understand that the final determination will result in a reduction for large consumers of up to £15,000 over the next couple of years whilst also committing NIE to make improvements in the network which will facilitate business and ensure a security of supply.
Two sets of energy industry experts, the Utility Regulator and now the competition authorities, concluded that NIE’s plans did not represent value for money for customers. Hopefully this experience will ensure that monopolies, like NIE and other energy companies, now put customer affordability first when making investment plans. Our manufacturing employers endure the 2nd most expensive electricity in Europe and as network charges make up around 20% of the final bill, it is unlikely this announcement will make a significant impact on final bills. So, today should be the beginning, not the end of a process.
Hardworking businesses and hard pressed families deserve and demand affordable electricity so the Utility Regulator and DETI should take confidence from the CMA's announcement and commit to take action to challenge the cost of generation which makes up around 60-70% of our bills. All the evidence exists, we have had numerous reports and investigations, we now need action in this area to benefit all consumers and for Northern Ireland to meet its economic ambitions. In addition, the price variance within the all-island Single Electricity Market must be smoothed out in the short-term. We share the same network so there is no justifiable reason to be paying a full 20% more than customers in the Republic of Ireland. From there, they must move Northern Ireland to an EU average during the remainder of this Assembly term. This will transform our export and economic performance, increase investment and put people back into work.
Finally, we would like to thank both the Utility Regulators team and the Competition and Markets Authority for the diligent way in which they conducted their work which has stopped NIE from inflicting undue cost upon already over-burdened customers.