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Sinn Féin meet with NIE to raise concerns on fuel poverty

12 November, 2008 - by Michaela Boyle

Sinn Fein MLA and chair of the finance and personnel committee, Mitchell McLaughlin, along with Claire McGill MLA today met with representatives from NIE in order to raise concerns around the reality of fuel poverty affecting many people.

Speaking after the meeting Mr McLaughlin said:

"The meeting today with representatives of NIE was a positive one.

"In regards to fuel poverty Sinn Fein raised our concerns with NIE with regards to the latest price hike of 33% and the effect that this would have on customers. Obviously this has made it difficult for people such as those on benefits, pensioners and working families, to make ends meet.

"We also raised the relationship between the regulator and NIE in relation to any further changes or indeed reductions. We were explicit in outlining our concern that if gas and coal prices, the two main fossil fuels used locally in the production of electricity, were to decline significantly in price that this should be reflected in reduced costs for customers and the regulator should be approach by NIE on this.

"Sinn Féin also asked the question what NIE were doing to make energy saving efficiencies available to customers. NIE assured us that they were working closely with agencies such as the Citizens Advice Bureau and Advice NI to make insulation and heating packages available to those on low incomes. We pressed for this scheme to be extended beyond 2010 if there were a continued need for it.

"In the coming weeks Sinn Féin will be meeting with the other energy providers and Douglas McIldoon who is currently reviewing the NIE regulators decision in regards to the NIE price rise. It is essential that the providers understand the serious concerns on local customers and the severe difficulties many are now facing due to energy costs."

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