Author: Consumer Council
Published on 30 August 2011 04:00 PM
The Consumer Council has said today’s announcement from the Coal Advisory Service that the price of coal in Northern Ireland will rise between four and ten per cent this September is yet a further blow for consumers who are struggling with their energy costs.
Although only around five per cent of households in Northern Ireland use coal to solely heat their homes, there is an increasing number of households that use coal fires as a means of complementing their central heating systems.
This price increase is yet another strain on consumers’ already over-stretched budgets. John French, Head of Energy at the Consumer Council said, “In light of the recent increases in electricity prices and now coal prices, we call on the Northern Ireland Executive to address urgently the issue of energy affordability in Northern Ireland before living in a warm and dry home becomes simply unaffordable.
Whilst the price of energy is rising on world markets, the Consumer Council believes that there are still practical interventions that the Northern Ireland Executive can undertake to support households here. These are:
- Use the Executive/Government estate’s huge energy purchasing power to negotiate lower prices for consumers;
- Require that the home heating oil industry does more to support vulnerable households and those in fuel poverty, for example introduce universal pay as you go cards;
- Ensure that the energy regulatory framework is working to deliver the lowest possible energy prices for consumers; and
- Set a roadmap and timescale to address the fuel poverty crisis in Northern Ireland.