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Families hit by gas, electricity bill hikes

CONSUMERS are being hit with another rise in electricity and gas charges.

The energy giant Airtricity said domestic users can expect an increase on the monthly standing charges from April.

The electricity standing charges will jump by €1.70 and gas by €1.14 -- both prices include VAT.

The firm said it was forced to take this action in a bid to recover debt from customers.

It said about 65,000 customer accounts are in arrears -- but 10,000 have agreed payment plans with the firm.

Those who are on pre-payment meters will not be affected. Some 547 meters have been installed since last October.

Airtricity managing director Stephen Wheeler said it "regrets" the increases.

"Unfortunately we have seen a significant increase in our costs related to recovering debt in addition to a considerable deterioration in our debt profile," he said.