Electric Ireland has announced its second price hike this year, with average electricity bills to rise a further €164 a year and gas bills to rise €311 a year from 1 August.
The move will affect Electric Ireland’s 1.1m electricity customers and 145,000 gas customers.
It’s feared that other suppliers may now follow suit, with Electric Ireland pinning the blame on an “unprecedented price escalation in wholesale gas”.
Suzanne Ward, its interim executive director, said: “We understand this price increase is unwelcome news for our customers.
“We delayed this increase as long as we could, but unfortunately, the situation in Eastern Europe and a reduction in the reliability of gas flows has resulted in sustained higher energy costs throughout Europe. We have seen a very substantial increase in the cost of wholesale gas, which in turn, impacts both our gas and electricity prices.”
In March, Electric Ireland substantially hiked its prices, adding an average of €300 to the annual electricity bill and €220 to the gas bill.
The company estimates its annual bill for customers getting their electricity and gas will rise from an average of €2,575 to €3,051 under this latest price rise.
Daragh Cassidy, head of communications at Bonkers.ie, said this latest hike shows that “we’re heading into next winter with gas and electricity prices at absolutely astronomical levels.”
And, he warned, “it may even get worse”.
“Despite these increases, Electric Ireland’s prices are still among the most competitive - if you could even use that word,” Mr Cassidy said.
“However its decision to significantly raise the standing charge again is disappointing. It means households are now being charged well over €300 a year for their electricity before they’ve even turned on a single appliance.”
He added that the other suppliers are likely to all announce higher prices soon and that a further hike from Electric Ireland before the end of the year “can’t be ruled out”.
The company said it engages with all residential customers who experience difficulty paying their bills, and encouraged any customer facing such problems to make contact to help put in place a “manageable payment plan”.
Thousands of these payment plans are in place at present.
Ms Ward said: “In addition, based on feedback that last year’s Electric Ireland Hardship Fund made a real difference in customers’ lives, we have pledged €3 million to a new Hardship Fund which will operate from Autumn.”
This hardship fund is administered by St Vincent de Paul and Mabs in the form of energy credits.