By Cate McCurry, PA
Cabinet has signed off on a scheme that will see €100 knocked off households electric bill.
The €210 million plan aims to help people struggling with the rising cost of energy bills.
The scheme will see householders get €100 credit, operated by ESB Networks.
Approximately 2.1 million domestic electricity account holders will benefit from the scheme for a one-off payment to their electricity accounts.
€100 payment to all domestic electricity accounts has been approved by Cabinet today as part of a suite of measures to mitigate the effects of the unprecedented rise in electricity prices...
— Eamon Ryan (@EamonRyan) December 14, 2021
The scheme is not means-tested and applies to those who use pay-as-you-go.
Primary and secondary legislation will be required to underpin the scheme, which is expected to pass through the Oireachtas early next year.
It could mean that householders may not benefit from it until at least March.
The decision comes as data from the Central Statistics Office showed the annual rate of inflation rose to 5.3 per cent in November, its highest in 20 years.
Consumers have been hit with 35 hikes to their energy bills in the past year, with households paying up to €1,300 extra.
The initiative will be known to as the Electricity Costs Emergency Benefit Scheme.
Households are struggling with soaring energy costs this winter. The €100 credit is welcome but should be brought in urgently, not left until spring.
Why is Government refusing to come back to the Dáil next week to sort this out before Christmas? – @MaryLouMcDonald #Dáil pic.twitter.com/vE8WSeoCpD
— Sinn Féin (@sinnfeinireland) December 14, 2021
Under the plan, ESB Networks will make payments to the individual energy suppliers.
The Commission for the Regulation of Utilities (CRU) will be charged with oversight of the scheme.
Customers do not have to apply for the scheme as it will be applied to bills automatically.
Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan said: “The Government is very conscious that international energy prices are having a significant effect on utility bills.
“While we took measures in the Budget to support vulnerable groups, this credit is designed to provide all householders with a contribution to their electricity bills in the spring of 2022.
“In the long term, the way to reduce our dependence on internationally traded fossil fuels is to expand our own indigenous supply of renewable power.
“We are working towards having up to 80 per cent of our electricity from renewables by 2030.”
People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett said: “A €100 against the background of bills increasing by 500, 600 euro or maybe more, is utter pathetic.
“Of course, we are not going to oppose Government measures to give people €100.
“Any relief, you couldn’t possible oppose it.
“But it is absolute pathetic drop in the ocean compared to the energy fuel price hikes that ordinary people are suffering and which will disproportionately hurt the less well-off and those who are in fully insulated homes.”
Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald urged the Government to bring forward the legislation.
“It seems crazy and unacceptable to me that people will have to wait until the springtime to have the benefit of this 100 euro relief,” she added.
“I want the ask that the Dáil meets next week.
“People are struggling out there.”