Sunday 17 December 2017

Energy firms are 'fleecing' Irish customers - TD

Labour TD Eamonn Maloney
Labour TD Eamonn Maloney
Aideen Sheehan

Aideen Sheehan

Energy companies have been accused of "fleecing" customers by not passing on the full impact of wholesale gas price reductions in gas and electricity bills to everyone.

UK consumers have enjoyed double the price reductions seen here, Labour TD Eamonn Maloney told the Dáil transport committee during a discussion on home energy costs.

He said that the main beneficiaries of falling world prices had been the energy companies rather than consumers.

International wholesale gas prices have fallen by 18pc in the last year, which has an impact on both gas prices and electricity costs, but household gas and electricity prices have only fallen by between 2pc and 4pc at most.

Mr Maloney said that while energy companies were giving relatively generous bonuses to people who switched providers, low-income families and the elderly, who are much more unlikely to switch, were being fleeced.

He was particularly critical of Electric Ireland, saying many longstanding customers had been with them for decades and would never switch so they didn't benefit from introductory bonuses.

However, energy companies defended their prices and said that with high switching rates in Ireland, they had to be competitive or lose customers.

Jim Dollard of Electric Ireland said that Irish household electricity prices for the average consumer were 2pc below the Eurozone average.

Electric Ireland had brought in a 2pc electricity price reduction before the winter and would pass on further price benefits to customers if wholesale price trends allowed.

Wholesale gas prices had fallen by 18pc in euros in 2014, but had risen by 8pc since the start of this year, he said.

Gas accounted for about 30pc of the total electricity price and suppliers buy stocks in advance which delays the impact of price changes on consumers and helps price stability.

Bord Gais said it had reduced its gas rate by 3.5pc and electricity rate by 2.5pc, and would shortly launch a campaign offering discount rates for existing customers who move to direct debit and electronic bills.

Interconnectors

Meanwhile, the European Union announced a major overhaul of the electricity market to allow countries trade power more easily and to help them negotiate better deals with countries outside the EU.

Ireland was singled out as one of the countries that was insufficiently connected with EU power supplies.

Currently there are two power interconnectors between Ireland and Britain but Eirgrid is looking at another high- capacity power link to France.

Irish Independent

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