Wednesday 20 September 2017

Householders face €65 hike in bills as Bord Gais seeks 7.5pc rise

Colm Kelpie

Colm Kelpie

Householders face a €65 hike in their annual gas bill.

Bord Gais Energy has formally applied to the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) for an increase in prices of 7.54pc from October 1.

If approved, the average annual gas cost to householders would jump from €860 to €925.

The final decision rests with the CER, which yesterday launched a public consultation and said they would give their verdict in late August.

Bord Gais blamed a hike in wholesale prices, as well as an increase in network charges and the weakening of the euro against sterling, as Ireland purchases virtually all of its gas from Britain.

While the proposed increase is significant, it had previously been believed that an increase of at least 10pc was on the cards.

A spokeswoman said many of the reasons for the price increase are out of Bord Gais's control.

"The wholesale costs and network charges would account for 90pc of the supply costs. They are economic and environmental," she said. "Any customer who is having difficulty with their bills or are having concerns with their bills should contact us," she added.

Arrears

The move will come as a blow to many householders who have seen little respite from home energy bills over the summer thanks to the inclement weather. About 11pc, or 94,600, of Bord Gais Energy's customers are in arrears with their gas or electricity bills of more than €100 for more than 60 days.

The spokeswoman said electricity prices are being kept under review, although she pointed out that price hikes in gas production could have a knock-on effect on electricity bills.

Both Airtricity and Electric Ireland have said their prices are under review.

The CER said that if a price hike is granted, it would be "with regret given the current difficult economic climate.

"We note, however, that there have been significant gas price rises across many EU countries over the last two years and that latest independent Eurostat data shows that Ireland's residential gas prices are generally lower than the EU average," the body said.

"We expect Ireland's gas prices to remain relatively competitive, even if an increase is decided on for this October."

The CER also urged customers to shop around.

Bord Gais said it has seen an increase in the number of customers taking pay as you go meters and an increase in the number of customers agreeing payment plans.

Irish Independent

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