GAS prices for local customers of firmus energy are to go up for the second time this year already.
From 3 May, customers in the Ten Towns area, which includes the Banbridge and Newry districts, will see gas prices increase by 16.31 per cent.
The Consumer Council says this will impact around 59,000 domestic customers.
This increase will see the yearly gas bill of a typical household with a credit meter rise by about £211 per year to £1,504.
Those customers with a prepayment gas meter (PAYG) will see costs increase by around £201 per year to £1,432.
Raymond Gormley, Head of Energy Policy at the Consumer Council said: “It is important consumers are made aware their domestic gas bills will stay high for at least the next year because the wholesale price that the companies pay for the gas continues to be much more expensive than the norm.
"Unfortunately heating oil prices are also very high, so regardless of the fuel we use, many of us will experience extreme pressure on our household budgets. This will further increase the numbers of people in fuel poverty, as many families may struggle to find the extra money they will now need to pay for heating.
“As the Winter 2021/22 Emergency Fuel Payment Scheme ends today (31 March), we implore firmus energy, and the wider energy industry to commit to financially supporting the continuation of a fuel hardship scheme in the coming financial year.
"For the 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 as the problem of high energy prices will likely be with us for the foreseeable future.”
Consumers who are struggling to pay their energy bills or struggling to pay to top-up their meter should contact their supplier directly for support. Consumers can also get in touch with the Consumer Council for free, independent advice by calling Freephone 0800 121 6022 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Consumer Council’s website has a number of free resources including Switch On: A Guide for Home Energy Users, which helps consumers be more energy efficient at home, get the best from their electricity or gas supply, and save money.