Move for ban on disconnection of domestic electricity users
ENERGY Minister Eamon Ryan has said the Government will consider introducing a "no disconnect" policy for electricity for domestic users, particularly those with children.
Asked yesterday if the Government would consider implementing a policy similar to that already in place in Northern Ireland, Mr Ryan said: "We are committed to looking at all different options."
He said a fuel poverty group, reporting to his department and the Department of Social Protection, would deliver a "very detailed" plan this autumn to outline different options.
"So nothing is ruled out. But we do have to work with other departments and the utilities to get an option that works for people in such difficulties," he said.
"I think we can do it and do it in a coordinated way with the industry."
Mr Ryan's comments follow a plea from the Society of St Vincent de Paul to waive the reconnection fees for electricity and gas.
Last week a spokesman for the charity said it was "ludicrous" that the regulator insisted on reconnection fees of €197 for electricity and €140 in the case of gas after figures showed that 2,500 households had their electricity cut off every month this year.
Meanwhile, electricity firms are to be called to account for the difference in household bills between the Republic and the North.
Energy providers ESB, Bord Gais, Airtricity and the Commission for Energy Regulation will appear before a group of cross-party politicians tomorrow.
Fine Gael's Joe McHugh said members of the Oireachtas Communications Committee would tackle the electricity companies about variations in utility bills.
"Those companies will be forced to explain why customers in this State are being forced to pay 14.4pc more per year than customers across the Border," said Mr McHugh, party spokesman on North-South co-operation.
"Businesses on this side of the Border are struggling to compete because of these higher costs. This price difference is completely unacceptable."
Mr McHugh maintained that on average ESB customers paid €686 a year compared with the €600 average cost for NIE customers in the North.
"The Republic of Ireland has the fifth highest domestic electricity price out of 31 countries in Europe. And Ireland is the sixth most expensive country in Europe for business electricity costs.
"Now the Government is introducing a new 5pc Public Service Obligation levy on ESB bills with the result that small businesses' bills will increase by €100 per year."