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18th March 2010

Electricity Suppliers Must Provide Clear Information To Enable Consumers To Make Informed Choices, S

The Consumer Council has welcomed actions proposed by the Utility Regulator (NIAUR) following its inquiry into business electricity tariffs and customers’ concerns, but said more needs to be done to improve the information reaching small businesses.

John French, Head of Energy at the Consumer Council said: “It is worrying that business customers were left confused by information received from suppliers. We welcome plans by the Utility Regulator to produce a ‘Buyers Guide’ and to provide a single source for information on electricity tariffs. However, there is also an urgent need for electricity suppliers to provide transparent quotations and invoices to allow like for like comparisons by customers. The challenge for the Regulator – ahead of the introduction of competition in the domestic electricity market – will be ensuring all suppliers provide consumers with the necessary information to allow them to make informed choices.

“Competition should be providing all consumers with a higher level of transparency and better customer service but as 66 per cent of business customers that have not switched from NIEE are small to medium enterprises (SMEs), we are concerned that competing suppliers are cherry picking the biggest customers and ignoring smaller businesses.

“Furthermore, today’s report tells us that the Single Electricity Market (SEM) is increasing competition but prices in Northern Ireland still remain higher than in the rest of the United Kingdom. The Consumer Council does not accept that prices in Northern Ireland will always be higher than the rest of the UK.

“Question marks remain over the effectiveness of the SEM to deliver the required investment in the Irish energy market in order to move to a non fossil fuel energy sector which gives security of supply at a price that allows businesses to remain competitive. This is a key issue in the McIldoon Report of December 2008, which must be addressed by policy makers.” 

A Consumer Council information leaflet on negotiating contracts is available at

  1. Consumer Council media contact: Keelin Kelly, telephone 028 9067 4807 or e-mail
  2. The Consumer Council is an independent consumer organisation, working to bring about change to benefit Northern Ireland’s consumers. The Council campaigns for high standards of service and protection and a fair deal for all. It also carries out research, gives advice and publishes reports and other publications. It deals with individual complaints about buses, trains, planes, ferries, natural gas, electricity, coal and water.
  3. For more information, visit our website at