Power supply companies like Electric Ireland should confirm if they are maintaining profit margins they enjoyed prior to the current escalation of electricity prices as the cost of power rockets, Cork MEP Billy Kelleher has said.
The MEP was commenting after the company announced 29% and 11% increases in gas and electricity prices respectively due to international energy markets fluctuations.
Electric Ireland provides electricity to over 40% of residential customers.
"However, if these price increases include a high level of profit for the company, questions need to be asked by the Irish Government.
"At a time when consumers are seeing overall inflation of over 9%, state-owned companies have an obligation, I believe, to do everything they can to lessen the burden on hard pressed consumers and families.
"Last year, ESB, the parent company of Electric Ireland, made a profit after tax of €266 million. The question today is should the company be operating and charging customers in such a way to maintain former profit margins?
"The Irish Government owns 95% of the company, with employees owning the remaining 5%.
"Energy Minister, Eamon Ryan should, I believe, direct the company to operate on a break-even basis for 2022 and 2023 to enable the company to lower prices for consumers.
"While I generally believe the State should leave its semi-state enterprises to their own devices, we are in an emergency and families are hurting.
Governments across Europe are coming up with new and innovative ways of addressing the energy cost crisis. “France, for example, has decided to fund their main electricity provider, EDF, to keep their prices low,” he said.
“I also believe there is a realisation at EU level that interventions of this nature are required to support families and consumers.”