The agency that regulates Irish Water last year increased its bonus payments by 15% to staff to more than €340,000.
According to the 2015 annual report published by the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER), bonus payments to staff last year totalled €342,656.
The bonus payments paid out last year represent a sharp increase on the €297,720 paid out in 2014 and €273,798 paid out in 2013.
Over the past seven years, the CER has paid out almost €1.9m in bonuses to staff in a scheme that has approval from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform along with the Department of Communications, Energy, and Natural Resources.
Numbers employed by the energy regulator last year fell from 87 to 86 and staff costs last year rose from €6m to €6.5m.
The €6.5m in pay included termination payments for two staff members.
The annual report shows that the CER increased its bonus payments to workers in spite of it going into the red as revenues from levy fees dropped sharply.
The report shows that CER incurred a loss of €535,000 for the year and this followed the regulator enjoying a surplus of €5.9m in 2014.
The chief factor was the amount received in income - mainly levy fees — declining from €20.8m to €16.3m.
The CER is responsible for setting prices for semi-state companies, such as Bord Gais and Irish Water. Earlier this month, CER told Irish Water to slash its planned spend by €264m over the next two years.
In a rebuff to Irish Water’s spending plans for 2017 and 2018, CER told Irish Water to cut its planned operating spend by €128m and its capital spend by €136m giving the total of €264m for the two years.
Between 2009 and 2014, the CER paid out bonus payments of €1.6m.
The performance-related pay model was introduced when the regulator was established in 1999 and does not apply to senior management.
The performance-related pay element is reserved for lower grades, has strict criteria, and is not guaranteed.
Referring to the bonus pay model previously, CER stated that its “staff are specialist and highly marketable and retention of expertise can be supported by such a pay model”.
CER’s costs are not paid for directly by the taxpayer, but were funded by a levy on “industry participants”.
Consultancy and legal fees incurred by the CER increased going from €6.1m to €7.1m that included legal fees rising from €778,000 to €981,000.
The report also showed that the pay to chairman Garrett Blaney last year totalled €202,000 that takes account of €15,000 on pension-related deduction.
Mr Blaney’s pay last year was made up a basic salary of €168,000, a pension of €38,000 and €11,000 in vouched expenses. Commissioner Paul McGowan received €175,000 under the same headings that included the €14,000 pension reduction and commissioner Aoife MacEvily received €162,000 that included a pension reduction of €13,000.
Nine employees at the energy regulator enjoyed salaries in excess of €100,000 last year.
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