The Government is being urged to step in and help households with escalating energy bills this winter after the 30th price hike by suppliers since the start of the year.
Bord Gáis Energy (BGE) has confirmed it is increasing its electricity unit price by 10% and its gas unit price by 12% from October. That means 350,000 customers will see an average €123 increase per year in their electricity bills and 300,000 customers face a €100 annual increase in their gas bills.
There have been 30 price hike announcements from energy suppliers here since the start of the year with some raising prices four times, according to price comparison site Bonkers.ie. For its part, BGE has now raised its electricity costs three times and gas costs twice.
Daragh Cassidy of Bonkers.ie said the BGE increases were expected given the raft of price hikes that have been announced so far this year on the back of "skyrocketing" wholesale energy costs.
He said a lot of our electricity is still generated from burning coal and gas and while the price of fossil fuels collapsed at the height of the pandemic it has increased significantly in recent months.
The situation has not been helped, he said, by the fact that two large power plants, Whitegate in Cork and Huntstown in Dublin, which supply roughly 15% of the country's electricity, have been out of action for much of the last year.
“So we have skyrocketing fuel prices, increased demand as the economy recovers, at the same time as we’re having a supply crunch. It’s all created the perfect storm for price increases," said. Mr Cassidy.
“Price increases of this magnitude and frequency are unsustainable.
"I would also call on the Government to look at ways households can be helped with their energy bills this winter.”
Age Action said that although fuel poverty is an issue across all age groups, older people in particular face a tough winter.
“The rising cost of fuel combined with the state pension that hasn't increased in two years has left some people in a vulnerable situation,” said Celine Clarke, its head of advocacy. “Only 30% of older people receive the fuel allowance, meaning that 70% have no additional support to deal with the rising cost of fuel."
St Vincent DePaul said it fears the impact of price increases on households in energy poverty, many of whom will have less financial resilience after the pandemic and higher levels of debt.
“With substantial price increases announced by major suppliers, in addition to increases in environmental levies, network costs and charges, the ability of low-income households to meet their energy needs is under growing pressure,” said Dr Tricia Keilthy (OK), SVP Head of Social Justice.
Energy Minister Eamon Ryan has said the Government will look at “specific measures” to cushion the impact of the “very significant, but hopefully short-term, problem” of rising electricity bills on those most at risk of fuel poverty this winter.