Charity warning on energy prices

A leading charity has warned planned price hikes in electricity and gas will place greater financial and emotional pain on struggling households.

Charity warning on energy prices

A leading charity has warned planned price hikes in electricity and gas will place greater financial and emotional pain on struggling households.

Bord Gáis is expected to announce increases of around €100 a year in electricity and over €170 annually for gas for hundreds of thousands of customers.

The company blamed a surge in energy prices but the Society for St Vincent de Paul said the extra bills will heap pressure on cash-strapped families.

“We are concerned that such a price increase, given the reduced incomes that most people are experiencing, will mean greater financial pressure and greater emotional pressure on lower-income households trying to make ends meet,” a spokesman said.

Later this week Bord Gáis is set to announce its electricity bills will jump by more than 10% from August 1 while its gas prices will surge by about 25% from October 1.

The company is already working with 110,000 customers behind with their payments.

Average electricity prices with Bord Gáis currently stand at €989 a year, with gas at €689.

Company sources have stressed the planned hikes mark the first time that Bord Gáis has increased its electricity prices, claiming they have already cut them twice.

Wholesale gas prices have increased by almost 40% in the last year, with prices predicted to continue to rise.

St Vincent de Paul said in 2009 it provided €6m worth of assistance to householders struggling with their energy bills and warned the figure would remain steady for 2010 and 2011.

Sinn Féin called on the Energy Regulator to rescind the planned price hikes.

Martin Ferris, energy spokesman, said: “While An Bord Gáis claims that it needs to increase prices because of the global market, the company has made substantial profits of late.

“An increase in energy costs now will push people further into fuel poverty and undoubtedly lead to an increase in the numbers of people in arrears and who are, therefore, in danger of disconnection.”

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