As the latest figures show more than 706 homes had their electricity cut off in May and more than 500 lost their gas supply, Fianna Fáil demanded the Government address a €450 per-year increase in energy prices.
The latest figures from the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) show there were approximately 706 disconnections of domestic electricity customers for non-payment of accounts.
At 241, CER said SSE Airtricity had the highest rate of disconnections per 10,000 customers at 6.59.
Electric Ireland had the next highest rate. In cutting off 420 accounts, it had a rate per 10,000 customers of 3.32. Bord Gáis Energy had 45 electricity disconnections, accounting for a rate of 1.54. There were 517 domestic gas disconnections in May, of which 457 were of Bord Gáis customers. That accounted for a rate per 10,000 customers of 13.05. SSE Airtricity had 40 disconnections, meaning a rate of 3.68. Electric Ireland had 13 disconnections (0.95) and Flogas had 7 (2.13).
CER pointed out that anecdotal evidence indicated a significant number of properties which are disconnected are vacant. It said ESB Networks and Bord Gáis Networks are putting in place a new system which would see vacant sites identified during the disconnection process by the network technician visiting the site.
“Using a different methodology, it has been previously estimated that in 2013, 40% of disconnected electricity sites and 36% of gas sites were deemed to be vacant,” CER said. “Applying these estimates to the figures (for disconnections in 2013), suggests that disconnections of customers in difficulty are significantly lower than suggested by the data.”
Fianna Fáil’s Energy spokesperson Michael Moynihan called on the new minister, Alex White, to immediately convene a meeting with CER “to discuss its performance in overseeing energy price increases of €450 per year”.
He said he wanted the Minister to examine CER’s performance over the last two years.
“Gas price are up 35% and electricity prices are up 21% in that period,” he said.
“Prices have sky-rocketed in two years and the CER has been complicit in helping companies like the ESB record huge profits. In fact, 16,000 homes had their energy disconnected last year, while ESB made a profit of €415m.”
Mr Moynihan said the international market had seen wholesale electricity price decreases over recent months yet electricity prices for households had seen no similar drop.
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