Page last updated at 12:59 GMT, Thursday, 18 September 2008 13:59 UK

Power price hike to be reviewed

Northern Ireland Electricity worker
Northern Ireland consumers ' electricity bills are to rise by a third

The 33% hike in electricity prices announced last week is to be reviewed, it has been announced.

Economy Minister Arlene Foster said the recent price increases were of a scale that caused consumers "real anxiety".

"The Utility Regulator has proposed terms of reference for this review which I believe are sufficiently wide to address major concerns," she said.

However, the Consumer Council has said it does not believe the regulator's office should undertake the review.

Chairman Steve Costello said they wanted an independent review of the electricity price increase.

"We are disappointed that as the consumer's voice we have had no knowledge of or input into the defined terms of reference," he said.

He said the current terms of reference ignored the fundamental questions asked of the regulator.

Regulator Iain Osborne said that the review would be on the setting of the electricity tariff.

"I hope that the independence of this review will help reinforce public confidence in the regulatory process and show customers that the Utility Regulator is working to protect their interests," he said.

Former regulator Douglas McIldoon is to lead the review and is expected to report by mid-November.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan, who is the chairman of the assembly's enterprise committee, said he did not think there had been proper consultation.

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