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Sinn Féin meet with utility Regulator

23 October, 2008 - by Jennifer McCann

Sinn Féin meet with utility Regulator

Sinn Fein's Assembly 'Cost of Living' sub group yesterday met with the Utility Regulator for the North to discuss issues of concerns affecting citizens in the current economic climate. The meeting was led by Sinn Féin MLA and Chair of the Assembly's Finance and Personnel Committee Mitchel McLaughlin along with Enterprise Trade and Investment Deputy Chair Jennifer McCann MLA and Claire McGill MLA.

A number of issues were discussed at the meeting including

· The need for long term planning and a strategic focus.

· Sinn Fein pressed the view that the utility regulation at present is currently an audit role, it should have a robust challenge function and that energy supply and pricing should be based on affordability, sustainability and fairness.

· At the minute, regulation is currently an audit role, not a challenging role.

· Fairness, affordability, sustainability

Speaking afterwards Mr McLaughlin said,

"There is a very real need to review the regulatory system, to include the oil industry. Additionally the emergence of the single energy market on the island of Ireland restrict the timeframe to buy energy thereby denying access to cheaper wholesale costs. In other countries including Britain these restrictions don't apply and energy companies can buy ahead, and the prices as a result of falling oil prices are more immediately reflected in the cost to consumers.

"These are exceptional times, the utility regulator needs to continually review energy companies to see if prices here can be brought down, as is happening elsewhere.

"Customers, particularly the most vulnerable and the fuel poor, need maximum protection." CRÍOCH

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