GAS company Firmus Energy is to increase its price to customers outside greater Belfast by a whopping 15 PER CENT.
And the firm will pocket a cool £1 million from badly hit customers as a result of the hike.
The increase is to start next month and will hit 20,000 customers.
Firmus Energy says the hike is around £1 per week for a typical household.
Multiply that by 52 weeks and it brings in Firmus and extra £1,040,000.
It said the price hike had come about because increased demand during the cold spell in March led to wholesale gas prices almost doubling.
Firmus Energy general manager Michael Scott said: “We understand the importance of price stability for customers and for the past two years we have been able to absorb fluctuations in costs and wholesale energy prices.
“The coldest March for over 50 years, with a prolonged snowfall, saw wholesale gas prices reaching almost double the normal winter price due to the high demand which depleted much of the UK’s gas reserves.
“Replenishing these reserves led to high levels of demand over the usually lower-priced summer period resulting in wholesale gas prices staying higher than normal.
“Coupled with the on-going unrest around the Middle East, surges in the price of oil and gas on the wholesale market have been so significant that we are unable to continue to absorb them.”
The areas where the increase will apply include: Antrim, Templepatrick, Ballyclare, Armagh, Tandragee, Ballymena, Broughshane, Ballymoney, Banbridge, Coleraine, Bushmills, Portstewart, Craigavon, Moira, Lurgan, Portadown, Limavady, Londonderry, Newry, Bessbrook and Warrenpoint.
Firmus Energy said tariffs for its 40,000 customers in greater Belfast, which were increased in April 2013, will remain unchanged.