Saturday 17 August 2019

Rip-off energy costs revealed as prices here second highest in EU

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Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

The rip-off cost of electricity in this country has been exposed. New figures reveal Ireland is the second most expensive country in Europe for electricity, despite having nine suppliers competing in the retail market.

It comes as one in three households expects to have to ration when they put on the heating this winter, due to the ongoing financial squeeze on personal finances.

New Eurostat figures show that Ireland is the fourth most expensive country in the EU for electricity, when taxes and levies are included. Only in Denmark, Germany and Belgium is electricity more expensive.

But once taxes are stripped out, Ireland is the second dearest for electricity, after Belgium.

The revelation of the high cost of electricity comes as most of the operators have announced price hikes in the past two months.

A spokesperson for the Commission for the Regulation of Utilities (CRU) stressed that suppliers here are allowed to set their own prices.

He said the high cost of importing fuel was one of the main reasons for the higher costs.

Electricity prices are also elevated because Ireland lacks the interconnection capabilities of other EU countries.

Operators face high costs due to network investment to supply energy to a dispersed population, the CRU said.

"Many EU countries do not have the same level of competition as Ireland does, so the average price may effectively be the only price available to consumers.

"Irish consumers have the opportunity to switch, save and beat that average by a considerable margin," the spokesperson added.

Mark Whelan, of price comparison site Bonkers.ie, said people who do not switch provider will end up paying too much.

Many households that are sparing in their use of energy say they are still likely to find their heating bills unaffordable, according to a survey commissioned by another price comparison site, Switcher.ie.

The survey comes after a raft of price rises from the State's main energy providers, and a rise in the Public Service Obligation (PSO) levy on bills that supports the generation of electricity from renewable sources and peat.

Switcher.ie's Eoin Clarke said the survey shows that a third of households are already rationing their energy use to keep costs down.

A further third say they plan to be very selective about when they put the heating on, according to the research carried out by iReach Insights.

Going without heating will mean many people will compromise on their comfort and well-being and could have an impact on the health of families, Mr Clarke said.

Concern over the cost of energy this winter will only be exacerbated by the recent spate of price hikes, he added.

Seven of the 10 energy suppliers in the Irish market have announced price rises.

This is set to add up to €57 to the average household electricity bill and up to €25 to the average gas bill.

Irish Independent

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