Bord Gáis price hike may be matched by rivals

All Irish customers will be affected "sooner or later" by the raft of energy price hikes that are still in "full swing", a consumer comparison website has warned.

Switcher.ie said the latest increase by Bord Gáis Energy would see almost €19 added to customers' annual gas bill, and more than €44 to their electricity bill.

Bord Gáis Energy announced its residential gas and electricity customers will see the increase from March 10. It will result in an increase of 2.3% on an average gas bill and 4.3% on an average electricity bill.

Bord Gáis Energy managing director Catherine O'Kelly insisted wholesale energy costs increases forced the company's hand.

"We have been working hard to hold off raising prices for as long as possible, particularly over the difficult winter months," she said, adding the firm would "continue to monitor costs closely".

Switcher.ie managing director Eoin Clarke said the combination of Bord Gáis Energy’s 2018 increase and this most recent hike means that its average annual gas and electricity bills will have gone up by €55.44 and €104.40 respectively.

He added that with the possibility of Electric Ireland and PrePayPower’s price freezes lifting at the end of this month, "it marks what is understandably a worrying time for all energy customers in Ireland".

"The latest hike from Bord Gáis Energy comes at a time when a raft of suppliers have already upped their prices at the start of winter -- and it’s now very likely the remaining companies will do the same.

“Unfortunately almost all Irish energy customers will be impacted by one of these winter hikes sooner or later, with some supplier increases already coming into effect.

"Although there was a short break between price hike announcements just after Christmas, this announcement today just goes to show that this round of winter increases is still in full swing," Mr Clarke said.

Switcher.ie said there had been a short reprieve between price rises over the past six weeks, with Energia the last supplier to put prices up for customers on New Year’s Day.

While the latest increase from Bord Gáis Energy was not as significant as those announced in 2018, it is the second time the supplier has announced a price rise in the space of seven months.

Meanwhile, rival energy company SSE Airtricity has seen its Irish customer numbers fall by 5% in the past two years, new figures show.

In an update covering the nine months to the end of December, the British energy group said it closed the 2018 calendar year with 740,000 customers on the island of Ireland.

That figure was marginally down on the 750,000 figure for the corresponding period a year earlier and was down from 790,000 for the same period in 2016; ultimately equating to a 5% drop in customer numbers over a two-year period.

The company raised its electricity and gas prices for its Irish customers twice last year, the most recent hike in December resulting in a €61.36 average annual electricity bill jump and a €52.52 increase in the average annual gas bill. The hikes were made on the back of rising wholesale energy prices, the company said.

CEO Alistair Phillips-Davies said SSE continues to make "good progress" in its core business of regulated energy networks and renewable energy.

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