Northern Ireland electricity and gas
By Sarah Ingrams
Article 7 of 7
Power NI is the biggest electricity retailer in Northern Ireland and has been running for more than 80 years. But is Power NI any good?
Power NI is part of Viridian Group, an Ireland-based energy company that generates power in coal and gas-fired power stations, and wind farms. It supplies electricity to over 500,000 customers but doesn't provide gas.
Power NI has maintained a lot of its market share since competition was introduced from energy companies such as Budget Energy and SSE Airtricity. It still supplies around 60% of the domestic market.
It says that it's ‘built around customer service’ and offers its customers advice on, and installation of, energy-saving measures, from solar panels to insulation. Power NI also says it's committed to community work, supporting local organisations and charities.
See how Power NI's prices compare with the rest of the market by using Which? Switch to find the cheapest gas and electricity deals.
Power NI customer score
Power NI came fourth out of six energy companies in Northern Ireland in the annual Which? customer survey.
Power NI score breakdown
The graphic below shows the breakdown of Power NI's score from our survey.
Scroll down to read the full Which? verdict on Power NI, including what its customers really think of its customer service, plus its sources for electricity generation.
Find out how Power NI compares with other energy companies – go to Northern Ireland electricity and gas firms.
Which? verdict on Power NI
Power NI's rating is not the worst, but it's definitely not the best either - sitting in fourth place on the table of six Northern Ireland energy firms.
Customers gave Power NI four stars out of five for its customer services online and over the phone, billing accuracy and clarity, and for helping them understand and reduce energy use. That's in line with the next-biggest firm, SSE Airtricity electricity, but there's still plenty of room for improvement in other areas.
They were most impressed with its bills and customer service, with 33% of customers rating customer service on the phone as excellent, and 32% rating online service as excellent.
However, customers were less positive about prices, and Power NI gained just three stars out of five for value for money. It was not the only energy company to do so, though – Firmus Energy and Airtricity were rated similarly for poor value for money.
This could reflect the 13.8% price increase in October 2018. One customer said: 'Our electricity has been quite reasonably priced over the past 5 years until a price hike just last week.'
Power NI offers a choice of tariffs, including online-only tariffs and monthly or quarterly direct debit bills.
The firm also claims to be the UK leader in pay-as-you-go keypad metering (when customers top up their energy credit as they would a mobile phone).
Like value for money, complaints handling received a three-star rating. Comments on this area were mixed though. One customer explained: 'It took 5 attempts to get in touch before I could complain and I'm still waiting for a reply.' But on the flip side there were positive comments too: 'They have always provided a first class service'.
The NI energy company got four stars for 'helping customers to understand and reduce energy use' - something that they claim to take 'very seriously'. A pretty impressive 48% of customers rated this area as good or excellent.
Power NI has a customer reward scheme called Perks, which offers cash back and discounts with certain brands.
Pros: A well-established company whose customers find its bills clear and accurate
Cons: Only provides electricity. Customers of other firms rate their provider as much better value for money
Power NI fuel mix
Power NI in the news
Power NI announced it will raise electricity prices by 13.8% from 1 October. This will add around £69 per year to the average customer's bill. Power NI and the Utility Regulator must consult before it raises prices. It blamed wholesale gas price rises for the increase. Power NI generates three quarters of its electricity from natural gas and the Utility Regulator says that the price of this has increased 30% since 2017.
Power NI increased electricity prices by 5.6%, adding £24 per year to a typical household’s bill. It says ‘increases in the costs of producing electricity’ are behind the rise.
Power NI is subject to price-control regulation, meaning that there is a limit on how much profit the company can make. The control protects customers from big price increases, since competition in the market is still quite new. If the company makes more profit than it is allowed, it must pass this back to customers through lower charges.