More energy bill hikes on way
MORE than a million ESB/ Electric Ireland customers are to be hit with price rises in the coming weeks, but they will not see their bills increase before October 1.
ESB/Electric Ireland, which has 1.2 million electricity customers and 20,000 gas customers, is to join the other energy companies in hiking prices to cope with a 40pc rise in the wholesale prices of gas on international markets compared to this time last year.
The companies buy stocks in bulk in advance but the international price has soared for a number of reasons, including political instability and turmoil in the Middle East as the consequences of the Arab Spring continue.
So far, ESB/Electric Ireland has not announced the price rises, or said by how much it bills will increase.
But sources confirmed prices would rise in the next few weeks, although bills would not increase before October 1.
Meanwhile, customers of other energy companies are facing heftier bills over the next six weeks, with electricity and gas subscribers seeing increases of up to €300 a year.
Airtricity last week said it would hike its prices, joining Bord Gais last month.
It is estimated that 300,000 homeowners are already struggling to pay their gas and electricity bills even without the latest price rises.
Electricity supplied by Airtricity will increase by 12pc from September 1, adding around €130 to the annual bill. The company's gas prices will jump by 21pc from October 1, adding some €150 to the annual cost of using natural gas. Airtricity has around 500,000 customers.
Bord Gais increased prices last month, with subscribers to both gas and electricity facing a €300 hike in yearly bills.
Commentators said the increases would push more people into arrears on their energy bills, with homes using more gas and electricity as winter approaches.