Alex White to meet energy suppliers over electricity and gas prices
Minister to insist energy companies offer customers ‘the best value available’
Alex White: Will meet the chief executives of the various energy companies in the next few weeks to outline the Government’s concerns. Photograph: The Irish Times
Minister for Energy Alex White is to meet energy suppliers because of Government concern about the failure to pass on savings in from falling oil prices to householders and businesses.
He is also encouraging consumers to shop around and switch electricity and gas providers as oil prices continue to fall.
Mr White will meet the chief executives of the various energy companies in the next few weeks to outline the Government’s concerns and “to insist they offer their customers, our citizens, the best value available in a competitive, liberalised market”.
He expects “savings will feed through to domestic prices in due course”.
The Minister said consumers could and in many cases “have mitigated electricity and gas prices by shopping around to get the best possible price and service deal from suppliers. I would encourage people to continue to do so.”
In the Dáil this week Fine Gael TD John O’Mahony criticised energy suppliers for failing to pass on the reductions.
He said oil and gas prices had plummeted in the past few months “but this is not reflected in energy bills” and in fact there had been a rise in prices because of the recent increase in the public service obligation (PSO) charge.
Describing it as “unacceptable”, the Mayo TD said that if the price of oil and gas increased “we would be told that Ireland, as a small country with no oil and little gas, has no control over the international prices and that would be a reason for hiking them.
“However when the opposite is the case, it doesn’t happen the other way.”
Mr O’Mahony added that the price of both petrol and diesel had dropped at the pumps in recent weeks despite the Government tax take remaining constant “and there should be capacity for a bigger decrease to be reflected in ESB and gas bills, but that has not happened”.
Instead prices had actually increased, he said. The wholesale price of gas had fallen by 27 per cent last year but “that reduction has not been reflected in the price paid by domestic consumers”.
Calling on consumers to contact their gas and electricity provider for discounts, the Minister acknowledged that older and more vulnerable people were reluctant or felt unable to switch.