HOUSEHOLDS and businesses have received some rare good news after the energy regulator decided to refund them money on their electricity bills.
It had been expected that electricity customers were in line to save almost €60 on their annual bills with the Government expecting a public service charge to be reduced significantly for next year.
Instead, the Commission for Regulation of Utilities has published a decision paper regarding calculations for the Public Service Obligation (PSO) that is even better news, with refunds of €89 for domestic customers.
And there will be refunds of €311.51 for small commercial customers.
The decision covers the period from this October 1 to September 30 next year.
The PSO levy is charged to all bills and supports the generation of electricity from sustainable and renewable local sources of energy.
The regulator has calculated that a the levy should be minus €491.25m for next year due to unprecedented and sustained high levels of wholesale electricity prices.
Low electricity prices mean windfarms and other environmental forms of energy generation need high subsidies, but the opposite is also true.
The CRU said the PSO levy is a key factor in enabling Ireland to meet its national targets in terms of the generation of electricity from renewables.
The levy has been as high as €90 annually on electricity bills in the past few years.
CRU officials had set the levy for this year at €755m, but it has been cut to minus €491m for next year.
They said this was due to the design of a new support scheme for renewables.
This means that renewable generators return market revenues above a certain level to levy customers, and also from the return of overpayments from a previous period when wholesale prices and revenues increased above forecast levels.
CRU chairperson Aoife MacEvilly said that compared with this year the levy calculation for next year represents an annual saving of €140.76 for domestic customers and €475.05 for small commercial customers.
The CRU said that this is the first time since the commencement of the scheme that a negative PSO of this magnitude has been calculated.
Ms MacEvilly said: “The decrease in the PSO Levy is a positive, however, its inverse relationship with wholesale fuel costs means that customers will have already seen price increases by suppliers over the last number of months.
“We would encourage customers to renegotiate with their supplier or switch to a new provider where they could save over €300.”
The announcement comes days ahead of ESB-owned Electric Ireland hitting more than a million households with a fourth rise in electricity and gas prices in a year.
The ESB-owned energy supplier is pushing up electricity prices by 11pc and gas prices by 29pc on Monday.
It is the second Electric Ireland price hike this year, and the fourth since last year.
When the state-owned company’s latest increase takes effect electricity prices will have risen 67pc in the last few years.
Gas costs will be €350 a year more expensive after the latest rise.
Electric Ireland gas prices will have gone up by 93pc when the new increase is implemented.
Householders have been warned that wholesale gas costs could keep rising.