THE leading supplier of bulk gas to households has shocked customers with a 700pc hike in the standing charge.
Calor, which has 28,000 customers North and South of the border, has told them the standing charge for liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) will rise from €25.40 a year to €199.70.
Asked last night about the enormous increase, a company spokesman said some residential customers who have an LPG tank would be better off using cylinders for cooking or gas fires.
"For those with low gas consumption, we are working with them to move to the most efficient and appropriate supply method.
"For customers using gas solely for cooking or a gas fire, it may be more financially beneficial to change to cylinder gas."
The company said that for low-use domestic customers it will take away a gas tank free of charge, reimburse customers for any gas contained within and replace the tank with two or four cylinders for a fee, subsidised by Calor Gas. It claimed it was the first time it had hiked the standing charge for 10 years.
The higher standing charge reflects the cost of supplying and maintaining the LPG storage tank and the cost of maintenance and insurance cover for the tank.
The company was unable to give a unit cost for supplying LP gas to householders because it changes every day to reflect the internationally-traded price of gas.
However, it admitted that the unit price of the gas it supplies has gone up recently.
Calor has been advertising heavily on TV to recruit residential gas customers. It and Flogas are the main suppliers of LPG in this market.
Household gas bills will increase by €75 over a year to around €840 on average after the price rise. Bills have shot up by €235 in the past 12 months following a 22pc rise last year.