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Phoenix Gas must deliver long-term price stability

26 August, 2004

Sinn Fein national Chairperson, Foyle MLA Mitchel McLaughlin has welcomed the announcement that agreement has been reached between Phoenix Gas and the Energy Regulator Douglas McIldoon to alter the licensing agreement from 25 years to 40, and said that Phoenix gas and the regulator must ensure that this leads to long-term price stability.

Mr McLaughlin said:

"The expansion of the gas industry has been supported by government and political parties as a cheaper, more efficient form of energy. The extension of the licensing agreement from 25 years to 40 must lead to long-term price stability. The result must be lower prices to the end user - the customer.

"There was widespread concern and the erosion of trust in this energy sector as a result of the uncertainty created by the proposed price hike last year. Customer confidence will be further eroded if there is any repeat performance.

"Now that the Centrica contract has been resolved and with the extension licensing agreement allowing for a longer-term repayment of investments, people will be closely monitoring the annual price review in October to ensure that customers continue to get value for money.

"Sinn Féin has argued for the creation of an all Ireland energy market. The signing of the memorandum of understanding between the energy regulators north and south should put in place the framework for the establishment of a single all Ireland energy market by 2007. The Phoenix monopoly ends at the end of this year and their Centrica contract ends in 2006. This must herald the emergence of a low cost energy market and the ability to access all Ireland gas supplies." ENDS

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