Consumers to gain in electricity price war

Consumers could be in line for a cash break, with experts predicting that the electricity price war will result in savings for hard-pressed households.

Last week Electric Ireland launched an offer, giving electricity customers €50 off their bill if they switched supplier.

It followed a price cut offered by Energia for customers who receive both gas and electricity, and an offer of a 10% discount on electricity prices from Bord Gáis — and a €80 cash-back offer if they stay with the supplier for a year — for the 50,000 customers who switched to them in the One Big Switch campaign.

Existing Electric Ireland customers cannot avail of the €50-off offer but it is open to new customers who switch before the end of April.

For its part Energia, which is a new entrant into the market, claimed an average family would save €306 a year on fuel bills thanks to its discounted energy rates.

Eoin Clarke, country manager with uSwitch.ie, said customers stood to gain as a result of increased competition in the sector — particularly at a time when many households are struggling to meet energy costs.

“The competition to win new energy customers can only benefit customers,” he said. “Recent data released by the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) revealed that 30,000 customers switched energy suppliers in February 2014, an increase of 5,000 on the previous month.

“It’s proof that customers are interested in switching to a cheaper energy deal.”

Independent research commissioned by uSwitch.ie last winter revealed that 56% of Irish households are forced to go into debt to pay essential bills, while more than 60% of consumers felt the rising cost of energy bills was severely affecting their disposable income.

Fuel poverty occurs when more than 10% of household income is being spent on energy bills and Mr Clarke said: “Fuel poverty is now a reality in some households.”

The One Big Switch campaign was aimed at showing households how they could save money by switching to a better energy deal. According to Eoin Clarke: “Electric Ireland responded quickly by launching a new offer to give electricity customers €50 off their bill if they switch.

“Electric Ireland’s ValueSaver [direct debit and online billing] electricity tariff is now the cheapest in the market. The discounted price plan can save households up to €154 on their annual electricity bill.

“Electric Ireland’s new offer is also marginally cheaper than One Big Switch/Bord Gáis Energy offer.”

However, he said households looking to reduce their energy bills do not have to wait for a group switching campaign and there is no guarantee such a campaign will save them more money.

“Customers switching independently today can benefit from savings sooner,” he said. “Although any consumer has the right to switch gas or electricity supplier, it is often seen as a complex process.

“In reality it takes around five minutes to switch energy suppliers. A medium energy customer can save up to €295 just by switching energy suppliers alone.”

Deregulation of the domestic gas market could take place this June, meaning Bord Gáis Energy would be allowed to set its own gas prices for the first time, and Mr Clarke said he hoped to see greater competition in the gas market in the coming months.

The Deals

- Energia claims home energy users will save approximately €306 per year by switching to its dual fuel electricity and gas bundle, with savings of 17% to be made off their electricity costs and 16% off their gas costs by switching online before April 17, using the promotion code “DUAL”.

- Electric Ireland has offered a value saver with €50 online sign-up bill credit and also has a value saver deal on dual fuel with Flogas.

- One Big Switch/Bord Gáis has a 10% discount Level Pay plan with €80 cash back after a year.

- SSE Airtricity has its Home Dual saver plan.


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