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Make most of cheap electricity -- it's not going to last long

Gas and electricity customers should be prepared to ruthlessly shop around to get the best prices. With money tight, forget about brand loyalty and squeeze the last cent from your utility suppliers.

Today the ESB, or Electric Ireland as we will soon have to get used to calling it, announced a range of price cuts. New and existing electricity customers will be able to save up to €120 per year while those who sign up to purchase both their electricity and gas from the ESB stand to save up to €190 per year.

In these recessionary times, with money ever harder to come by, a saving like that is not to be sneezed at.



COMPETITION

The retail electricity market was opened up to competition two years ago. Several new players, including Bord Gais and Airtricity, entered the market, offering customers who switched from the ESB steep discounts.

Now the boot is on the other foot. With its share of the retail electricity market now down to 55pc and 5,000 electricity customers a week still switching to other suppliers, the Energy Regulator has deregulated the electricity market. This means that the ESB, sorry Electric Ireland, is now free to set its own prices.

Having been on the back foot for the past two years, Electric Ireland is now hitting back hard at its competitors. For customers who switch their gas and electricity accounts to EI and agree to receive their bills by email and pay by direct debit, EI is now offering a 17pc discount off its electricity prices. This compares favourably with the electricity discount of up to 14pc currently on offer from Bord Gais.

EI is also offering a 6pc discount on gas prices, which have yet to be deregulated.

That's the good news, so where's the catch?

Look around you. As anyone who has filled up their car recently can testify, oil prices have rocketed over the past few months. It's the same story with natural gas. This means that Bord Gais will be seeking a hefty gas price increase in the autumn. As natural gas is the main fuel source used to generate electricity, electricity prices are also set to soar later this year.

So enjoy the lower electricity and gas prices while they last, they'll be gone soon enough.


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