Northern Ireland

New regulator says high energy prices in NI are here to stay

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Media captionJenny Pyper of the Northern Ireland Utility Regulator, has said high energy prices are here to stay

The new chief executive of the Northern Ireland Utility Regulator has said high energy prices are here to stay.

Jenny Pyper was giving her first broadcast interview since taking the job.

She said bills need to be good value for customers as well as allowing energy companies to turn a profit.

"I'm afraid that the era of high energy prices is going to be with us for some considerable time and there isn't a silver bullet," she said

"Yes we want to see them make a reasonable rate of return for their owners and for their shareholders," she said.

"But ultimately the job of the utility regulator, the job of my team, is to make sure that we secure investment for the future, we deliver good quality, effective services and we do that at the lowest cost for consumers."

In April, the Competition Commission was called to settle a dispute between Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE) and the utility regulator.

NIE wanted to increase substantially the amount of money spent upgrading its infrastructure.

However, the regulator said the plans would add too much to bills and then referred the matter to the commission.

The commission ruled that the increase should only be around £5 a year, as opposed to the £25 per year that NIE had wanted.

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