Page last updated at 16:29 GMT, Monday, 26 September 2011 17:29 UK

Energy Prices

Sinn Fein's Phil Flanagan said the good news for rural dwellers was that the price of turf was not going up, on September 26 2011.

He was proposing the party's motion calling on the enterprise minister to liaise with the utility regulator and the large energy companies to ensure fair and affordable pricing for energy.

Mr Flanagan noted that Phoenix Gas was increasing prices by 40 per cent, Firmus Energy increasing gas prices by a third, and the price of electricity was increasing by 18 per cent.

Stephen Moutray spoke for the DUP amendment that removed the reference to the large energy companies.

He argued that the minister, the DUP's Arlene Foster, did not have the power to set prices for private companies.

The UUP's Mike Nesbitt noted that 36 per cent of the population suffered from fuel poverty at the beginning of the previous assembly.

The figure now stood at 44 per cent.

Alasdair McDonnell of the SDLP said there was absolutely no reason why we should not develop the production of electricity from "wind, sun, sea and renewable resources".

Anna Lo from the Alliance party said they would not support the amendment.

She favoured continuing the winter fuel payment and called for greater energy efficiency in the home.

Enterprise minister Arlene Foster said the energy prices presented, "a real challenge to homes and businesses right across Northern Ireland".

Referring to the proposed north-south electricity interconnector, which is the subject of a public inquiry, the minister said its absence was costing us in the region of £18m per year.

She said an interconnector would help to bring efficiencies into the energy market.

The motion was passed as amended.

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