Electricity prices fourth highest in EU after 5pc rise
IRISH households pay among the highest prices in Europe for electricity as bills here rose twice as much as the rest of the continent last year.
A new Eurostat report shows that Ireland has the fourth most expensive electricity in the EU and the price rose by 5.1pc in the second half of 2013 compared with just 2.8pc across Europe.
Meanwhile, nearly 1,000 Irish homes had their electricity cut off in March because of failure to pay the bills, the latest figures from the Energy Regulator show.
Some 971 homes had their electricity cut off and 479 had their gas cut off once the winter moratorium on disconnections ended, although up to 40pc of those homes might be vacant, the regulator said.
Consumers in Ireland pay €24.10 per 100 kilowatt hour (kWh) of electricity which is 20pc higher than the EU average of €20.10.
It is 34pc higher than our nearest neighbour Britain, the Eurostat report shows.
That makes us the fourth most expensive country in Europe for power behind Denmark, Germany and Cyprus, while prices here have risen by 15pc since 2011.
The prices compiled by Eurostat are based on the unit price of electricity, including all taxes and levies.
When it comes to gas, meanwhile, Irish prices are closer to the average in Europe, but they rose by seven times as much here as elsewhere in Europe.
Householders here pay €7.20 per 100kWh of gas which is only just above the EU average but 22pc higher than in Britain.
Irish gas prices rose by 7.4pc in the second half of 2013 compared with the same period of 2012 while across Europe the average price increase was 1pc.
Electric Ireland – which remains the country's biggest supplier – said that the reason Irish electricity prices came out so high was that Eurostat based its figures on lower average consumption figures than were found here.
Ireland fared better when the comparison was based on typical fuel consumption here, coming out at the eurozone average, the ESB said.
Ireland also relies heavily on imported fossil fuels to generate its electricity – which means it is more exposed to international fuel markets, transport costs and foreign currency issues than other countries.
"Electric Ireland sets its electricity prices on the basis of the costs it incurs and the competitive pressures it faces," it said.
"They consist of wholesale costs to purchase the electricity from a competitive market, network costs to transport the electricity to the end consumer, taxes and levies set by government/regulators plus its own operating costs and margin," it said.