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Smart Consumer: In arrears? ESB see the light with budget payment plan

They've had a lot of stick for the number of people they have disconnected recently. In fact the ESB even called the business of turning off the lights of those who couldn't pay as "de-enegerising" customers.

Now it seems they've dropped that ugly phrase and are showing a slightly kinder face.

If you are in arrears on your electricity bill with ESB, now called Electric Ireland, or if you are having difficulty paying your bill, you'll be pleased to learn that you too can get cheaper rates.

ESB Electric Ireland had excluded these customers from the discounts unless they were social welfare recipients.

So it seems that after intervention from the Minister for Energy, Pat Rabbitte, their rules have changed.

You can now avail of a discount of at least 4% by signing up to a Household Budget Price Plan, where you commit to an agreed weekly payment through An Post's Household Budget Scheme.

This is also available to those customers using meters, and a further 2% discount is available if you opt for electronic billing.

By the way, whether you are having trouble paying your bill or not, if you are an existing ESB Electric Ireland customer you do have to "opt-in" to avail of the new cheaper rates.

So either do that, or see if you can get an even better deal for your needs by switching to Airtricity, Bord Gáis or Flogas.

See www.bonkers.ie for a price-comparison tool on energy providers.

Irish Independent