Consumers Help Shape Future Spending on NI Electricity Network
For the first time in Northern Ireland consumers have helped shape proposals to reduce power cuts, increase resilience against severe weather and ensure future electricity needs are met.
Their views and priorities are outlined in, ‘Empowering Consumers’, a report launched jointly today by the Consumer Council, the Department for the Economy, NIE Networks and the Utility Regulator.
Report recommendations include the need for NIE Networks to raise awareness of its role in the electricity market, improve customer satisfaction with its connections process, be mindful of consumers’ preference for personal telephone contact, and that investment against severe weather should be proportionate to how many consumers it can protect.
This new approach to NIE Networks’ business planning process will ensure that consumers’ recommendations are reflected in investment decisions during the 2017-2024 Price Control process, known as ‘RP6’. Price Controls set out how NIE Networks will transport and distribute electricity and provide services such as meter reading and, importantly, how much consumers will have to pay.
Consumer Council Chief Executive John French said: “Around one quarter of domestic electricity bills goes towards paying NIE Networks to manage and develop electricity infrastructure. For business consumers it represents between 5 and 20% of their bill. It is crucial that customers believe they are receiving value for money and trust what they are being told, so we asked them what improvements they wanted to see and their priorities for investment.”
Nicholas Tarrant, Managing Director at NIE Networks said: “Our business plan will determine the shape of the electricity networks up to 2024 and beyond. Understanding consumer priorities is therefore critical so that we can deliver the network they expect.”
Utility Regulator Chief Executive Jenny Pyper added: “Providing an opportunity for consumers to shape priorities for the electricity network is a positive and welcome development. Consumers have a stake in the future development of the electricity network and they want a safe and reliable electricity supply at lowest cost.”
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