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Regulator needs to explain approval of NIE increase

10 September, 2008

Regulator needs to explain approval of NIE increase

Sinn Féin Economy Spokesperson, Mitchel McLaughlin MLA (South Antrim) has called on the Energy Regulator to explain the rationale behind approval for the massive increase in NIE prices.

Mitchel McLaughlin said:

"Today's energy price increase will have devastating effects on the poorest and most vulnerable in society. It is incumbent on the Regulator to provide a clear and satisfactory explanation to consumers as to what grounds he can justify permitting NIE to increase its prices by almost double that elsewhere.

"These increases will exacerbate the diminishing disposable income available to working families whose income has failed to keep up with inflation, the elderly, unemployed and those dependent on other benefits. Consumers are already suffering under the pressure of spiraling costs of essentials. More and more people are being forced into conditions in which they have to choose between 'eat or heat'.

"Minister Foster should also call the Regulator in to demand an explanation of his approval of this increase.

"The visit here next week by Gordon Browne will give the parties the opportunity to unite in calling for the British government to assist the Executive in setting up a fund to fight fuel poverty in the most vulnerable sections of our society. This fund should be financed by the Energy providers and the British treasury which will be in receipt of over £40 million VAT returns from consumers here as a result of these increases. Viridian, which owns NIE is a private equity company making massive profits and should not be permitted to gouge consumers here in order to maintain the level of its shareholders dividends." ENDS

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