Households face €8.20 monthly bill hike as Electric Ireland increases prices

ESB subsidiary blames wholesale charges for decision to raise electricity and gas costs

Electric Ireland is part of State-owned ESB. Photograph: iStock

Electric Ireland is part of State-owned ESB. Photograph: iStock

 

More than a million households face increases of up to €8.20 a month on energy bills from August, when ESB subsidiary Electric Ireland will hike prices.

Its move follows several rivals, including SSE Airtricity, Flogas, Iberdrola and Energia, which increased charges in March as wholesale electricity costs surged.

The company, part of State-owned ESB, will increase household electricity prices by 9 per cent from August 1st, adding €8.20 a month to the average family’s bill.

Electric Ireland will increase residential gas prices by 7.8 per cent, which equates to €4.98 a month.

The price increases apply to its 1.1 million household electricity customers and 146,000 domestic natural gas users. The company says there is some crossover between the two groups.

Marguerite Sayers, Electric Ireland’s executive director, blamed rising wholesale electricity costs for the decision, saying the company was exposed to price moves in this market.

Daragh Cassidy, spokesman for price comparison website Bonkers.ie, confirmed that wholesale prices had trebled from a low last July.

He said that a year ago wholesale prices were €30-€40 per megawatt hour – the unit in which they are sold – but were about €100 now.

“That changes on a daily basis; in fact they have breached the €100 mark at times,” Mr Cassidy said.

Increases in world prices for natural gas, used to generate about 60 per cent of Irish electricity, and coal, burned to produce 10-15 per cent, have pushed up wholesale prices, he said.

At the same time, several power plants, including Bord Gáis Energy’s generator in Whitegate, Cork, are shut for repairs and maintenance, while lower-than-usual wind speeds have cut the amount of renewable electricity available.

Growing demand

Demand is growing, spurred in part by data centres, whose increasing presence in the Republic is causing concern to national electricity grid operator Eirgrid and the Commission for Regulation of Utilities.

Mr Cassidy described Electric Ireland’s move as “almost inevitable” given the wholesale price increases .

Ms Sayers said Electric Ireland had one of the “lowest standard unit rates in the market for electricity and gas”.

She pointed out that the company had frozen prices in March when many rivals increased their charges.

“We also extended our disconnection moratorium to help customers struggling during the pandemic, and we are keeping it in place for another two months, until the end of August,” Ms Sayers added.

Electric Ireland urged customers facing difficulties paying their bills to contact the company to work out plans to agree workable payment plans.

Many families are struggling to pay household bills following more than a year of Government pandemic lockdowns, which pushed unemployment to a 485,000 peak in February. The latest figures showed 228,000 people were out of work.

Both Bord Gáis Energy and SSE Airtricity said they kept prices under constant review.

SSE Airtricity said it encouraged customers facing difficulty with their bills to contact the company.

Bord Gáis Energy said it was committed to offering customers value and choice.