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Electric Ireland to cut prices for businesses but not households


Energy prices for households have doubled in the last year and a half.

Energy prices for households have doubled in the last year and a half.

Energy prices for households have doubled in the last year and a half.

THE State’s largest electricity supplier has been called on to cut its prices for households after it emerged that it is reducing energy costs for businesses.

Electric Ireland is reducing some prices by up to 15pc for firms, with an average cut of 10pc, from next month but said it had no immediate plans to introduce reductions for consumers.

The Consumers Association said it was “galling and upsetting” for consumers to see price cuts for businesses but not for households.

It said it was time that consumers saw a price reduction as wholesale energy costs have fallen back to 18-month lows.

ESB-owned Electric Ireland has 1.1 million electricity customers and 150,000 gas customers.

Electric Ireland last increased prices in October, a move that saw electricity unit rates rising by 38pc and gas by 47pc.

Those increases added around €446 a year to the average customer’s electricity bill and €516 to the gas bill.

It increased prices for households three times last year and twice in 2021.

This meant the average cost of electricity has doubled for the typical household to around €2,000 a year.

Last week Pinergy became energy supplier to cut its prices in three years, a move that has ramped up pressure on bigger players like Electric Ireland and Bord Gáis Energy.

Independent operator Pinergy broke ranks to deliver a price reduction of 7.1pc from the end of March.

Energy Minister Eamon Ryan has called on suppliers to households to cut prices now that wholesale costs are falling.

Electric Ireland has confirmed businesses were going to see prices come down. It said there would be “an average 10pc decrease across Republic of Ireland SME Tariff customer base”.

Some small firms have been told they are getting larger reductions. Experts said some of the hikes for firms in the last year and a half have been more severe than those imposed on households.

But chairman of the Consumers’ Association of Ireland Michael Kilcoyne said it was galling for consumers to see firms getting reductions while they are paying sky-high prices.

“Instead of giving consumers €50 back, Electric Ireland should be cutting prices for ordinary consumers.

“This is galling and upsetting for people. Electric Ireland does not seem to care about ordinary people.”

He called on the State-owned company to review its pricing and said consumers were annoyed to learn recently that householders had been overcharged to subsidise larger corporate energy users.

When asked why residential customers were not have their energy prices reduced, Electric Ireland said it offers the best value bill pay electricity prices in the residential market and strives to give customers a range of products at competitive prices.

“Price rises have been driven by wholesale gas costs, which have increased by many multiples over the past 18 months.”

It acknowledged that wholesale markets have fallen in recent months, but said they remain at levels far higher than before the energy crisis.

It said it has bought forward wholesale energy supplies, so-called hedging arrangements, and some of these will take 24 months to unwind.

“Electric Ireland will continue to keep its prices under constant review, and is committed to providing customers with the best value possible across a broad range of products.

“As of 1 February 2023, Electric Ireland offers the lowest Estimated Annual Bill for electricity on the market,” the company said.

Electric Ireland said it was foregoing profit from its residential electricity business this year and has given a €50 credit to Electric Ireland residential electricity customers.

Its Hardship Fund was also increased by €2m to €5m, it said.

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