Calls have been made for an investigation into Bord Gáis Energy’s decision to impose massive increases in its permanent charges.
he move was condemned as price gouging.
Ongoing electricity charges for Bord Gáis will now be close to €300 a year when the latest price increases come into effect next month.
This will have to be paid even if the household does not use a watt of electricity.
The Consumers’ Association of Ireland said rising wholesale gas prices could not be used as an excuse for permanent charge increases and called on the regulator to investigate.
Bord Gáis Energy blamed soaring wholesale gas prices in international markets for its decision to raise electricity prices by 27% from April 15.
This will add around €385 to the average annual bill, according to calculations by price comparison site Bonkers.ie.
Gas increases by 39%, adding €390 to the usual bill. It comes on top of the two fuels which increased by €400 each last year.
The British energy company is also increasing its permanent charges by similar percentages.
This means that even if households reduce their energy consumption to zero, they will still be burdened with massive cost increases.
Bord Gáis’ latest permanent charge increase will add approximately €53 per year to a household’s gas bill and €65 to a typical electricity bill.
However, since Bord Gáis prices started to increase in the fall of 2020, the cumulative increase in the electricity charge will be €123 by April 15, including VAT.
The petrol charge increase will be €80 by April, according to Bonkers.ie’s Daragh Cassidy.
“These are hefty increases and you have to wonder why,” Mr Cassidy said.
“It really looks like some form of price hike at a time when households are already under huge pressure with energy costs.”
The total package for electricity customers will be €293 including tax.
This means that households will be charged €300 before using a watt of electricity.
The new fixed charge for gas will be €177 per year.
Michael Kilcoyne of the Consumers Association accused Bord Gáis of profiting from the war in Ukraine.
Bord Gáis denies price gouging. It has around 350,000 residential electricity customers and around 300,000 gas customers.
Ongoing charges are fixed amounts applied to gas and electricity bills.
The fixed charge helps the supplier to cover the fixed costs, which include the supply of a meter and the connection to the network.
Mr Kilcoyne said: “The increase in permanent charges is an opportunistic move. It’s pure greed. »
He said the company couldn’t blame soaring wholesale gas prices for its decision to raise ongoing charges for the two fuels.
“They are trying to take advantage of the Ukrainian war by increasing the permanent charges,” he said. “This is going to cause misery for consumers.
“This needs to be investigated by the Utilities Regulatory Commission.”
Mr Kilcoyne said the Consumers Association is aware that energy prices are unregulated for end-users and companies are free to set their own prices.
However, he said it was in the public interest for the charges to be increased at the same time as the unit prices for electricity and gas.
Bord Gáis was asked why permanent charges increased by the same percentage as unit rates.
It was pointed out that there was no volatility or major increase in network fees.
The energy company said: “The permanent charge relates to the fixed costs associated with the supply of gas and electricity.
“At Bord Gáis Energy, we strive to have one of the lowest permanent charges on offer. In this volatile market, the cost of doing business has increased significantly.
“You will notice that ongoing fees vary by provider and are subject to competitive market pressures.”
He also said it was worth “noting that wholesale prices for the remainder of 2022 are up 131% since October 1, 2021.”
The Utilities Regulatory Commission said providers do not have to submit or seek approval for ongoing charges and that these are up to each provider and can vary widely from provider to provider.
The big question is what increase the other providers will now announce.
ESB, owner of Electric Ireland, with more than a million electricity consumers, is in trouble.
Its executives might like to raise prices for residential customers by a similar amount as Bord Gáis, but as it has just reported windfall profits of 679 million euros, it will be extremely difficult to announce similar increases. two digits.
The semi-state also had to defend Fianna Fáil TD Barry Cowen’s accusations that it manipulated wholesale energy prices last year, allowing it to make super profits.
ESB, which is still owned by the taxpayers, denies this.
Bord Gáis Energy was sold for a song to Britain’s Centrica after the troika urged the state to whip up assets to help pull the economy out of collapse.
It was sold for just €150m, even though the Whitegate power station that was part of the deal alone cost €400m to build.
This deal is coming back to bite us.