Northern Ireland gets a new electricity company

Northern Ireland will have a new electricity supplier from this August. Open Electric pledges to be the most “socially aware” power company with promises to reward its customers with a share in any profits made.

The company will be run by local entrepreneur Marc Norris who set out his rationale for wanting to set up electricity provider;

For far too long, energy customers in Northern Ireland have found themselves at the mercy of suppliers which have put their own interests first, bamboozling them with complex and often confusing pricing, while also making them pay more for choosing to receive a bill by post.

At Open Electric, we want our customers to share in our success and we promise to reward them for their loyalty with a credit payback scheme. We also promise to financially support charity and community initiatives for the benefit of all and we invite our new customers to choose who should benefit most.

This is a a bit of diversion for me in what I typically write about, but like any bill payer I like to bargain hunt. It will be interesting to see how Open Electric do in this new market and whether they can  shake things up.

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  • Reader

    The local electricity suppliers are really just “resellers”, aren’t they? They make their living from a markup on the wholesale price, and market their product on price, service and gimmicks?
    The better their gimmicks, the more they can squeeze on price and service.
    Don’t mind me, I’m just a little bit cynical today.

  • Chris Jones

    Yes ….there’s two markets – a wholesale supply and then a reseller

  • Old Mortality

    That makes five retail suppliers in a relatively small market. I can’t see that number surviving for very much longer. According to the regulator, PowerNI had a 71% market share in the fourth quarter of last year (never underestimate the passivity of the NI consumer), SSE had 21% and Budget 8%. Electric Ireland clearly has an insignificant share.
    Does anyone know why the practice of quarterly meter readings continues here, especially when 41% of consumers are using prepay meters? An annual reading should be sufficient for customers paying by direct debit.

  • dodrade99

    I don’t understand the electricity market at all. How can different companies charge various rates when it comes from the same power stations over the same grid?

  • Passing Interest

    That’s a very orange website they have! Irish News say they’ll donate “up to 10 per cent” of profits but the company website says they will “guarantee at least 10% of any profit made will be donated and shared”. Lets hope this isn’t a gimmick to lure in new customers by tugging on the heart strings.
    Not sure our market has the space for another supplier and the comparison of there being 81 in Britain is a joke considering our population is 1/4 of that of London alone. Good luck to them but there’s still a lot of loyalty to PowerNI.

  • New Yorker

    These companies are resellers and in my experience do nothing but billing and they don’t even read the meters. NI Electricity maintains the lines, fixes the problems, reads the meters – in fact, they do everything but sending the bill. It is difficult to see what benefit these companies provide to consumers.

    Power NI somehow received the NI Electricity billing data when billing was removed from NI Electricity. It would be interesting to know how that came about.

  • Mister_Joe

    For the same reason that different mobile phone companies can charge different rates (believe it or not). The main wire owners are forced to allow other companies access at a fair rate. Then different companies can charge different infrastructure costs depending on their efficiency or accept different profit margins.