The Consumer Council for Northern Ireland (CCNI) plays a fundamental role in providing vital information, advice and advocacy for all consumers in Northern Ireland, with a focus on vulnerable consumers. This work has great importance for NEA and many organisations throughout Northern Ireland, both strategically and operationally, and we welcome the opportunity to respond to this Draft Forward Work Plan 2022–2023.
Energy policy in Northern Ireland is set to embark on the most dramatic period of change in Northern Ireland’s history. Whilst this change will bring many opportunities for energy consumers including access to clean fuels, the role out of new home heating technologies and improvements to the existing energy infrastructure; it also presents a number or challenges and risks for which consumers will need support to overcome. Within this context the Consumer Council will have a hugely important role to play in the years ahead.
NEA agree with the overall focus of the FWP plan and given the very challenging external environment, we believe that CCNI have identified four correct priorities in decarbonisation, COVID- 19, EU exit and digitalisation. However, given the ongoing volatility of energy market, and the warnings from the UR to expect prices to remain tumultuous for at least another 18 months, we believe there is now a strong case for the inclusion of a fifth distinct priority which would reflect supporting consumers through the immediate hardships of the ‘Energy Crisis’.