Northern Ireland's largest energy supplier Power NI is to hike electricity prices by 5.6%, meaning the typical bill for those on its standard tariff will jump by £27/year.

The price increase, effective from Sunday 1 October, will see the average annual electricity bill for a typical user on the supplier's standard variable tariff rise from £470 to £497.

The new prices were agreed with Northern Ireland's Utility Regulator, which oversees Power NI's domestic charges. Power NI supplies half a million customers – about 61% of all Northern Ireland's electricity customers – though doesn't provide gas. Many homes in Northern Ireland are not on the gas grid, and instead use heating oil among other fuels.

This increase only affects the maximum price Power NI can charge – many can still switch and save. For more, see our Cheap Northern Ireland Energy guide.

Why are prices increasing?

According to the Utility Regulator, it agreed to the price increase due to an expected spike in wholesale costs – the price suppliers pay for gas and electricity – over the next 12 months.

As part of its monthly monitoring of Power NI's pricing, costs and profits, the regulator decided to raise the maximum average charge for customers to 14.78p per kilowatt hour of electricity – up 5.6% on the last time prices were reviewed back in April 2016.

It follows two price cuts in 2015 and 2016, with the maximum charge falling 9.2% in April 2015 and a further 10.3% in April 2016.

'A decision not taken lightly'

Utility Regulator chief executive Jenny Pyper said: "Agreeing an increase to Power NI's domestic electricity tariff is not a decision that we take lightly. We carry out extensive scrutiny of Power NI's costs to ensure that any change to their standard tariff is justified.

"Domestic electricity prices in Northern Ireland have not increased in four years, but unfortunately, due to rises in wholesale energy costs, this increase is unavoidable."

Stephen McCully, managing director of Power NI, said: "So much is dependent upon world fuel costs, which are outside our control and which have an effect on the price we pay for wholesale electricity.

"We have not increased our prices since 2013, so it is particularly disappointing for us that we have to do so now. However, as we were able to cut our prices over the last four years, a typical Power NI bill will still be roughly £80 less than it was in 2013."

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