Cabinet approves plan for €600 electricity credit for all households

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan looking at ways to help consumers who ‘fall outside framework’ of energy credits

The Government is looking at ways to help those who “fall outside the framework” of energy credits, the Taoiseach has said after the Cabinet approved a plan to pay three electricity credits to all homes.

Micheal Mártin confirmed in the Dáil that Green Party leader Eamon Ryan brought proposals to Cabinet about the “broader area of energy credit” where €200 in electricity credits is expected to be paid to each household in November, January and March, to a total of €600.

Mr Ryan, Minister for Energy, is also looking at certain categories of households including up to 340,000 on prepayment tariffs and members of the Traveller community who pay local authorities for electricity.

Fine Gael Louth TD Fergus O’Dowd said a group of people in his constituency live permanently in a mobile home park, many of them pensioners. He said they pay their energy bills directly to the mobile home park operator through private meter arrangements.

The Taoiseach said the Minister “is looking at certain categories who fall outside the framework” in relation to energy products.

Earlier Solidarity TD Mick Barry has raised the difficulty for pay-as-you-go householders receiving the €600 credit.

Mr Martin told him that “we are looking at approximately 346,000 prepay electricity meters”. He said 90,000 of them were “provided to people who have experienced electricity debt, to help them budget these costs and providers have clear protocols in place”.

Mr Barry suggested that customers could be allowed to transfer from pay as you go bill pay without any obstacles, such as by removing the €199 transfer charge for gas.

He also called for a ban on disconnections for such customers until the end of winter and suggested that prepay customers could have emergency credit of €100 for gas, rather than the current €10.

The Taoiseach told him that the Commission for the Regulation of Utilities (CRU) has statutory responsibility for consumer protection including around disconnections and protections for those on prepay meters.

He said the regulator has announced enhanced consumer protection measures for the winter including a range of protections for customers on prepay meters.

“In addition, if anyone was in any difficulty, we have the social welfare system to provide supports on an emergency-needs basis and a basic position with regard to not disconnecting people throughout the winter who are in genuine hardship.”

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times