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October price hikes coming for Airtricity customers

ALMOST half a million Airtricity customers face a hike in their annual household energy bills from October.

Airtricity is the latest energy company to announce an increase in prices, with electricity set to jump by 4.7pc and gas by 8.5pc.

Average electricity bills will therefore jump by €49.92 a year, while gas prices will go up by €69.16.

But if you are one of the roughly 110,000 customers who use Airtricity for both electricity and gas then the total cost will increase by €119.

The announcement comes just over a week after ESB/Electric Ireland announced it was to raise prices by 5.9pc, meaning the average bill will surge by €64 per year.

Airtricity maintained the price hike was unavoidable.

Stephen Wheeler, Airtricity managing director, said: "Factors outside of our control, such as the increase in gas and electricity 'pass-through' costs and the cost of the euro against sterling, mean that these price increases have become unavoidable.

"We are genuinely aware of the financial pressures facing households right now.

"That's why we are doing all we can to offer a fair price for the energy we supply and to minimise the impact of price increases on our customers."

Customers on pre-payment meters will not be affected by the price increase.

Struggling

From October 15, Airtricity's average bill for electricity will be €1,127 and its average bill for gas will be €888.

Around 370,000 domestic electricity customers will be affected, as well as about 110,000 customers who have both domestic gas and electricity.

Airtricity said it was taking steps to help struggling households, including increasing the number of pre-paid meters and working with St Vincent de Paul and the Money Advice and Budgeting Service.

About 70,000 customers are in arrears by 60 days or more, 10pc of whom are in payment arrangements.

The Electric Ireland announcement last week came just days after Bord Gais was granted permission to charge an extra 8.5pc for domestic gas from the start of next month.

Earlier this month, it emerged that it was now €300 more expensive to fill a tank of home-heating oil than it was two years ago.

It costs close to €1,000 for 1,000 litres of heating oil. And checks by the Irish Independent revealed that more than 300,000 people were struggling to pay their energy bills.

St Vincent de Paul said it was spending €8.8m paying electricity and gas bills for people unable to meet the bills and helping to avoid disconnections.

Alone, the charity which provides support and housing for older people in need, expressed concern at the impact of the price hike on the elderly.

Sean Moynihan, chief executive, said: "This additional increase, on top of last year's substantial increases, will have an impact across the board.

"But it will be more acutely felt by older people for whom heat is not a luxury, it is an essential."

Irish Independent