Prospect of 30% ESB hike ‘horrifying’

ST VINCENT de Paul has described as “horrifying” the prospect of a 30% increase in electricity bills — as clients are already suffering because of food and petrol price increases.

It has emerged that the ESB is to seek a 30% increase in customers bills to offset the rising costs of generating electricity from oil and gas. The Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) said it hadn’t yet received a request for such an increase. St Vincent de Paul had been expecting a rise in electricity bills, but not such a large increase.

Already this year, according to the charity, between January and mid-April, they recorded a 70% increase in the numbers of calls for help from people living in the Greater Dublin region. In 2007, they provided €3.1 million to people to help pay fuel bills. St Vincent de Paul vice president Professor John Monaghan said the increased costs will most impact on “pensioners, those on social welfare and on low pay”. St Vincent de Paul is calling for the increased VAT receipts from fuel sales to be used to increase the weekly fuel allowance from €18 per week to €25. The allowance is available to those on pensions and social welfare. They also asked for the allowance to be paid twice annually rather than weekly as most people are paying to have an oil tank filled. Speaking in the Dáil, Taoiseach Brian Cowen said the figure to be presented to the CER was “speculative”.

“The ESB will present its price case to the CER, something which is expected towards the end of July. Following a full review of that case, the CER will engage in a public consultation process. This will focus on what the CER views as a fair and reasonable cost to the industry. The process is in the interests of the customer and not the electricity industry,” he said.


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