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Sunday 31 August 2014

Surge in water meters as 30,000 put in every month

Paul Melia

Published 14/06/2014 | 02:30

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Irish Water said it was installing 30,000 meters a month
Irish Water said it was installing 30,000 meters a month

There has been a huge surge in the number of water meters being installed in properties in advance of charges coming into effect from October.

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Irish Water said it was installing 30,000 a month, ahead of a 27,000 per month target, as part of the ambitious programme which aims to have more than one million in place by the end of 2016.

Around 1,300 people are employed fitting the meters, with 60pc of those coming from small local businesses, the unemployment register and school leavers, graduates and apprentices.

This is higher than the target set by government where 25pc of all metering jobs were supposed to be drawn from these sectors.

However, given the spate of recent protests against metering, the company said it was working in "challenging conditions".

"The successful roll-out of the programme is as a result of the hard work of these staff, often in challenging conditions," a spokeswoman said.

Meanwhile, the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) has revealed that fewer than 240 submissions have been received from the public setting out how charges should be calculated and what protections put in place for customers.

The CER, which will announce the price each family will pay by August, said just 239 submissions had been received as part of a public consultation process announced in April.

The public and interested parties were asked to submit proposals on three issues – how domestic charges should be designed and calculated; what customer protection measures were needed and proposed changes to commercial water charges.

However, the number of submissions received were low – representing just 0.01pc of the 1.3 million customers who will begin paying for their water from next October.

A spokesman for the regulator said just 193 people or agencies made submissions on pricing, and only 30 on customer care. Just 16 responses were received in relation to non-domestic water tariffs.

Among the proposals on customer services included requiring Irish Water to pay customers €10 if they failed to give adequate notice of interruptions to supply, failure to respond to complaints within five days and a 15pc reduction in charges if a boil water notice was in place.

On the domestic charging, the regulator has proposed introducing a charge for families without meters to be based on the house size and number of occupants.

It also proposes a cap on bills for between six and 12 months when unmetered customers move to a meter.

Irish Independent

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