Wednesday 19 December 2018

Second energy provider now delays price hikes to 'help at expensive time of the year'

Stock photo: PA
Stock photo: PA
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

A second energy provider is to freeze prices for the high-use winter period.

PrePayPower said it would not increase the price of its electricity or gas until at least the first day of March.

It comes weeks after the largest provider in the market, Electric Ireland, said it would freeze electricity and gas prices over the coming months.

In the past few months, five suppliers announced winter price rises and this followed a string of hikes announced earlier in the year.

PrePayPower says it is one of the fastest growing energy market firms in this country.

Only set up in 2010, it has 140,000 pay-as-you-go electricity customers, and 42,000 gas customers.

PrePayPower installs meters in customers' homes, which allow them to pay for their electricity as-they-go via a smartphone app, online or in-store.

The meters also allow customers to monitor energy usage in the home via a smartphone app or online. Co-founder and chief executive of PrePayPower Cathal Fay said the price freeze was timed to coincide with the lead-in to Christmas and new year as this is an expensive time everyone.

"We're delighted to be giving our customers a little bit of good news at this expensive time of year. This announcement provides customers with certainty of pricing during the winter period when customer energy consumption is at its highest," he said.

"Our service will help them monitor and control that consumption."

The moves by PrePayPower and Electric Ireland will put pressure on Bord Gáis, one of the bigger players in the market. It has yet to say whether it is increasing or freezing prices. Another provider, BEenergy, has also yet to indicate if it will be hiking prices.

The Electric Ireland freeze will apply until the end of February, when energy use in homes is at its highest.

The company, the largest supplier in the State, has 1.1 million electricity customers and 138,000 gas customers.

Winter price rises have recently been announced by SSE Airtricity, Energia, Pinergy, Flogas and Panda Power.

The Panda Power rise took effect in November and will see the bill for a household with average electricity use rise by almost €100 a year.

People who get both electricity and gas from Energia will end up paying an additional €118 a year for their dual fuel over a year, with the rises taking effect from the first day of the new year.

Daragh Cassidy, of price comparison site Bonkers.ie, said that even if customers were benefiting from a price freeze, they needed to switch supplier every year to benefit from the best deals.

"All the energy suppliers save their best tariffs for brand-new customers, which can be discounted by up to 30pc or more compared to the tariffs a longer-term customer is charged," said Mr Cassidy.

He said switching supplier was quick and easy and could all be done online in the space of a few minutes

Irish Independent

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