Soaring energy bills will put more pressure on those already ‘at the pin of their collar’, says Cork TD

Electric Ireland today announced that it plans to increase residential electricity bills by 26.7 per cent and gas bills by 37.5 per cent in the Republic of Ireland from October 1.
Soaring energy bills will put more pressure on those already ‘at the pin of their collar’, says Cork TD

A Cork TD has expressed concern that soaring energy bills will further exacerbate the financial difficulties of people who are already “at the pin of their collar” when it comes to dealing with the cost of living.

A Cork TD has expressed concern that soaring energy bills will further exacerbate the financial difficulties of people who are already “at the pin of their collar” when it comes to dealing with the cost of living.

Sinn Féin TD Thomas Gould was speaking following Electric Ireland’s announcement today that it plans to increase residential electricity bills by 26.7 per cent and gas bills by 37.5 per cent in the Republic of Ireland from October 1.

The increases equate to €37.20 per month on the average residential electricity bill and €42.99 per month on gas, based on the estimated annual bill as defined by the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU).

Electric Ireland said the increases were due to “ongoing uncertainty in the international energy markets and sustained and unprecedented increases in wholesale energy prices”.

Speaking to The Echo, Mr Gould said constituents of his have been in touch who are “terrified about the winter” in terms of how they will be able to afford to pay for their heating.

“Unless you’re really affluent the cost-of-living crisis is starting to affect every part of society.

“Especially with the schools gone back this week an awful lot of families now are at the pin of their collar.

“The Government must do something to cap these increases and to bring forward a windfall tax because the profits that are being made are just astronomical,” he continued.

Commenting today on the announcement, Pat Fenlon, executive director of Electric Ireland, said it is with “considerable reluctance” that the company is increasing electricity and gas prices again for its customers.

“We realise these price increases will be difficult for many customers to absorb and we are committed to helping our customers during these difficult times.

“We encourage any customer having difficulty in paying bills to engage with us and we will work with them to agree a manageable payment plan.

“In addition, our €3 million Electric Ireland Hardship Fund is available and will be administered on our behalf by our partners SVP (Society of St Vincent de Paul) and MABS (Money Advice and Budgeting Service),” he added.

This is the third increase in electricity prices this year, with previous announcements in May and June.

SSE Airtricity announced similar increases last week, with the average electricity bill rising by 35.4 per cent and gas by 39 per cent.

Taoiseach on price hikes

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the price hikes reflect a “broader exponential rise” in energy prices.

“The last week or two have seen pretty dramatic, unprecedented increases in pricing in terms of forward purchases of energy on the wholesale market,” Mr Martin added.

He said that EU energy ministers will meet on September 9 to bring forward emergency measures to curb soaring prices.

From a Government perspective, Mr Martin said it “will use the budget and also in tandem with the budget the cost-of-living package, to alleviate pressures on households”.

“We’ll also have to look at the impact on businesses in terms of jobs and the retention of jobs, of this exponential growth in prices. We will deal with that as best we can in terms of alleviating pressures on people which are clear.

“We will also be launching a demand reduction approach. In other words, energy efficiency, and all of us will have to see what we can do to reduce our energy consumption,” he added.

Tough winter ahead

Meanwhile, Socialist Party TD for Cork North Central, Mick Barry slammed the price hikes announced by Electric Ireland.

“The Government has the power to stop these shocking increases.

“Huge pressure needs to be brought to bear now on the Government on this issue.

“I urge everyone to get out on the streets and join the cost-of-living protest in Cork city on Saturday, September 17,” he said.

Speaking in relation to the forthcoming budget, Fianna Fáil TD for Cork East, James O’Connor said he believes a particular focus should be on assisting those “who are on lower incomes but are outside a lot of the bands for social protection support” saying that many of this cohort are in “serious financial circumstances”.

Mr O’Connor said he fears this winter will be the toughest the country has faced “in a long time”.

“I think the issues around energy supply are hugely acute and gas supply is a major, major concern.

“Ireland can do nothing to increase our gas supply at the moment of a noteworthiness and I think that’s the concern really that I would have coming into the new year.

“We need to start investing in gas storage urgently because that could have a catastrophic impact on the economy next year,” he added.

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