Sunday 24 June 2018

We only have ourselves to blame if this country is Treasure Island for energy providers

The reason we have so many competitors here is because there are healthy profits to be made from suppliers of electricity and gas to households. Stock image
The reason we have so many competitors here is because there are healthy profits to be made from suppliers of electricity and gas to households. Stock image
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

We really only have ourselves to blame for the fact that this country is Treasure Island for energy companies. For a small nation it is mind-blowing that we have 10 energy providers in the retail market.

The reason we have so many competitors here is because there are healthy profits to be made from suppliers of electricity and gas to households. The fact that so few of us switch providers feeds this profitability.

A raft of price hikes have gone through recently, which should be incentivising us to switch more often.

In the past few days Electric Ireland has hit more than one million households with electricity price rises. Electric Ireland customers with average consumption will see their annual electricity bills increase by €35, as a result of the 4pc hike.

The supplier has cited increased wholesale costs as the driving force behind the change. It has 1.13 million electricity customers, according to the energy regulator. Back in October Electric Ireland said it would be freezing all prices until after the winter.

But it added that the 4pc electricity price increase would take effect from the start of this month.

In the last three months of last year, Bord Gáis Energy, SSE Airtricity, Flogas, Energia, Pinergy and PrePayPower all hiked prices.

And a levy on all electricity bills, called the Public Service Obligation (PSO), has gone up by 30pc. This adds €25 to the average bill, pushing the levy up to almost €105 a year up from €80 last year. The levy goes towards the additional costs of producing sustainable energy.

Despite the price rises, householders have eased off on switching electricity supplier. There are nine electricity suppliers and one gas-only provider in this market.

There was an average of 26,154 switchers a month last year, down around 300 a month compared with the average monthly number of switches in 2016, according to the Commission for the Regulation of Utilities. Considering there are more than two million households in this State that is a pitiful level of switching.

Energy firms are attempting to stop customers switching by offering them retention deals.

Electric Ireland offers discounts of between 4pc and 8.5pc to customers to stop them moving to another operator.

This is a small reward for loyalty, but it is a fraction of what is on offer for switchers.

There is an average of €379 to be saved by switching for those with both electricity and gas at the moment. You will save €187 a year by switching to Energia for electricity only, according to price-comparison site Bonkers.

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