Energy price rise causing hardship - Moynihan
From the start of next month a million homeowners face a steep rise in electricity prices, and “a lot of people are very hard pressed” already according to Cork North West TD Michael Moynihan.
Last Friday Electric Ireland announced it will increase prices by 5.9 per cent, meaning the average bill will jump by €64 a year.
Electric Ireland also said that it would be increasing gas prices by 8.5 per cent, mirroring the rise last week by Bord Gáis Energy. This means that the average annual bill will be close to €1,000, with an extra €70 added as a result of the gas increase.
Mr Moynihan, Fianna Fáil’s spokesperson on communications, energy and natural resources said it meant “people would be under ferocious pressure this winter” as a result of the gas and electricity increases.
“The biggest problem is the Electric Ireland hike and recent gas hikes (coming together). The regulator gave a more than one per cent increase on what Bord Gáis asked for.
“The regulator is supposed to be the advocate for the consumer. The regulator has questions to answer about the gas increases.”
Last Tuesday 4 September, a price increase of 8.5 per cent was announced by Bord Gáis Energy. The regulator allowed a higher increase than the State-owned gas supplier had requested.
Bord Gáis asked for a 7.4 per cent rise, but the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) allowed the company to raise prices by 8.5 per cent. That means the annual gas bill for hundreds of thousands of customers has risen by more than €230 in little more than a year.
“There has been a 30 per cent rise in 20 months in gas prices,” he added. “When the Dáil reconvenes we will be asking questions. Questions need to be asked about the regulator.”
Electric Ireland blamed higher distribution and transmission costs for the electricity rise.
Liam Molloy, General Manager, Electric Ireland said the company regrets increasing electricity prices at this time.
He added: “We have managed to keep the remainder [of the costs], which is due to the impact of the weak Euro on our wholesale energy costs, to a minimum.”
He also claimed that the price increase would result in an increase of just €1.22 per week on the average residential electricity bill.
According to Cork North West TD, Mr Moynihan, “Electric Ireland has people under enormous pressure. Maybe they should look at their own cost base rather than passing on the cost to the consumers,” he said.
Coordinator of Cork MABS (Money Advice and Budgeting Service) Margaret O’Neill advises that planning for the increases in energy prices is important.
“The key thing is a budget. The bill comes bi-monthly and people should try to keep money aside in line with usage. Note that we have just come through the summer months when usage is lighter.
“Talk to providers about putting in a meter so you can pay weekly through pay cards,” she says.
She thinks the An Post Household Budget Scheme may be an option for some people. “For anyone who is in receipt of a state payment where they collect money at the post office, their energy payments can be deducted at source every week.” This also has the benefit of avoiding a big bill every two months.
“It’s timely now to put money away in a very structured way,” she adds.
Cork MABS can be contacted on 0761-072090 or firstname.lastname@example.org.