All Irish households are to receive €200 off their domestic electricity bills following the signing of the Government’s Electricity Costs Emergency Benefit Scheme. The scheme will almost double the amount that was originally envisaged earlier this year.
The bill, signed last Friday by President Michael D Higgins, will see credit applied automatically to householders’ bills next month.
Irish households will see a €176.22 credit line (€200 inclusive of VAT) with the identifier “Government Electricity Credit” which will appear on their bills from April and will continue over the following month or so depending on the household’s billing cycle and electricity supplier, the Government said on Monday.
The Government clarified that households would not have to apply for it nor would they need to contact their electricity supplier.
The total funding for the scheme has increased from an original €215 million to €400 million and will encompass up to 2.25 million domestic electricity accounts.
Specific arrangements have been put in place for customers using hardship prepay meters around how they can receive the credit and this guidance will be communicated by their suppliers, said a statement from the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications. It noted the automatic credit scheme was being rolled out in this way “to ensure it benefits as many people as possible”.
The majority of prepayment meters will accept the credit in full, however, a small number of older prepayment meters will require the customer to redeem their credit over three separate transactions over the space of a few days, said the department.
In a small number of cases where a tenant’s landlord pays utility bills, the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) will be tasked with handling disputes by any renters who do not see the saving passed on to them.
Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan welcomed the signing of the legislation and said the Government was “acutely aware of recent increases in the cost of living and the impact of rising inflation right across the economy”.
“Internationally, natural gas prices have been on an upward curve since the second half of 2020,” said Mr Ryan. “This has fed directly through to retail electricity prices, as the wholesale price of electricity correlates strongly with the price of gas. In the long term, the way to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels is to expand our own indigenous supply of renewable power, and to invest in energy efficiency in our homes.
“We are working towards having up to 80 per cent of our electricity from renewables by 2030 and we now have supports for homeowners, farms and small businesses to generate their own power and sell any excess to the grid. This, in addition to immediate short-term measures, is what we must do – to protect Irish householders from high energy costs over the coming years.”