Bonus payments to staff at the agency which regulates Irish Water increased to €227,793 last year, according to figures from the 2020 annual report for the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU).
The bonus payments paid out in 2020 represent a 5.6 per cent increase on the €215,706 paid in 2019. Over the past 13 years, the CRU has paid out €2.9 million in such bonuses to staff.
The increase in bonus payments in 2020 coincided with the CRU recording a surplus of €1.44 million which followed a deficit of €492,000 in 2019 - a positive swing of €1.8 million.
The CRU recorded the surplus as its main source of income - levy fees from the electricity, gas, water, LPG and petroleum sectors increased by 23 per cent in 2020 from €14.9 million to €18.4 million.
The main driver in the increase in levy fees was the electricity sector which contributed more than half that total at €9.9 million, while water contribute €2.69 million. Gas contributed €4.38 million, in addition to petroleum (€1.39 million) and LPG (€27,000).
A note attached to the accounts concerning the bonus payments states the performance related remuneration scheme has been approved by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment. The note states the chairperson, members of the commission and directors do not receive any performance related payments.
The CRU - which is due to publish a consultation paper on data centres by the end of this month - is responsible for setting prices for semi-state companies, including Bord Gáis and Irish Water.
The numbers of people employed by the utility regulator increased from 102 to 109 in the year and staff costs totalled €8.43 million. Those earning over €100,000 in the CRU last year totalled 12, with chairperson Aoife MacEvilly the top earner at €183,000.
Commissioner Paul McGowan received €169,000 while fellow commissioner Jim Gannon received €165,000. Key management personnel, including the commissioners, shared pay of €1.28 million.
The CRU paid out €3.94 million in professional fees last year, concerning its work across all sectors and also made a €676,000 provision for its judicial review costs.
The CRU's costs are not paid for directly by the taxpayer, but are funded by a levy on industry participants.