The squeeze on natural gas supplies is biting customers with a series of dramatic price increases in recent weeks from many of the Irish energy providers.
Bord Gáis became the latest to announce double-digit increases in the cost of gas and electricity supplies for customers just as they face into winter bills. The increase – the company's second after even bigger increases that came into effect only last month – mean Bord Gáis customers will see their electricity bills jump by close to a quarter this winter, with a bigger hit on gas, even if they use no more power.
And Bord Gáis is far from alone. Customers at Energia, Iberdrola, Panda Power, Pinergy and GlowPower will all face price rises next month and for two of them that is the fourth increase this year.
From next month, customers at Flogas and Iberdrola will pay over 40 per cent more than at the beginning of the year for power.
The fact that the supply crunch in Europe has been known by all in power for most of the year is no consolation. Nor is the fact that, to a degree, they are just pawns in a geopolitical tussle between Russia and western Europe over gas pipelines.
For sure, a surge in post-pandemic demand from Asia has also been a factor, as has the taking out of commission of a number of parts of the supply chain. But, to a large degree, this is a show of power by Russian president Vladimir Putin. His Nord Stream 2 pipeline is complete but not yet commissioned; coincidentally or not, supplies from Russia on existing routes have slowed.
With many families still struggling for work and with debt as a result of the Covid pandemic lockdowns, this is the last thing they need. And they can no longer rely on Covid-era rules that forbade the utilities from cutting them off over unpaid bills. A long winter looms.