'Debt hoppers' cost ESB millions
Published 12/06/2011 | 05:00
A major problem facing the State-owned ESB is what it calls the new "phenomenon" of "debt hopping" by customers who switch to other providers before settling their existing bills.
Now that the ESB no longer enjoys a monopoly, electricity is being supplied to consumers by other entities like Bord Gais and private companies like Flogas and Airtricity.
The ESB has one outstanding electricity bill of €965,000 at the end of the year, according to its annual report, which was published on Friday.
During 2010 the ESB had "impairment" bill, which it does not expect to recover, of over €32m.
Last year, the Sunday Independent revealed that 30 householders were being cut-off every week for failing to settle bills.
"The CER (Commission for Energy Regulation) in conjunction with all electricity supply companies, is attempting to agree a solution to this problem," the ESB said in its annual report.
It also reveals that the biggest single bill written off by the company in 2010 was one of €138,000, which was run up by a customer who went into liquidation.
The ESB says that accounts in arrears are managed internally, but also utilise debt collectors and legal actions against defaulters.