Government to consider time-of-day-pricing in bid to tackle cost of living

On Wednesday, Electric Ireland became the latest energy firm to announce a price increase
Government to consider time-of-day-pricing in bid to tackle cost of living

Cate McCurry, PA

The Government is to consider using mandatory time-of-day-pricing for electricity in an attempt to address the cost-of-living crisis.

Eamon Ryan said the Government has plans to bring in more measures to try and ease the living costs on households.

The time-of-day pricing is where the price of electricity is less expensive at night than during the daytime as there is less demand.

It is to encourage people to change their energy use to periods where costs are usually cheaper.

Age UK study
Eamon Ryan said the Government has plans to bring in more measures to try and ease the living costs on households (Peter Byrne/PA) 

On Wednesday, Electric Ireland became the latest energy company to announce a price increase, which will hit hundreds of thousands of customers across the island.

It comes in the wake of similar moves by Bord Gáis Energy and Energia.

The Government has faced mounting pressure in recent weeks to do more to try and alleviate the financial pressure on households.

“I think we should be looking at market mechanisms. Looking at further efficiency measures and not just looking at government always signing every cheque,” Mr Ryan told the Dáil on Thursday.

“I think one that could be really effective is to give time-of-day-pricing, make that mandatory. It’s just one example.

 

“We will bring that forward in the coming weeks, with a number of other measures such as that to try and help address this real crisis.”

Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty told the Dáil that the latest price hikes come on top of 35 energy price increases last year.

Mr Doherty accused environment minister Mr Ryan and the Government of failing to bring in measures that would effectively reduce bills.

“We’ve already outlined to you what could be done. So for five months, for example, we’ve been calling on the government to engage with the European Commission to reduce VAT on household energy bills for a period of time,” Mr Doherty added.

“We need a government that is active. We need a government that will press the Commission to allow VAT to be applied on domestic energy bills at a rate of zero.”

He pressed Mr Ryan on whether the government sought a derogation from the European Commission in relation to VAT energy bills.

The Donegal TD also repeated his calls to remove the excise on home heating oil, something the Government disputes it can do.

Mr Doherty claimed this move would reduce a fill of oil by around €100.

Mr Ryan said that while the €200 credit on bills will not cover the increase, it will help “cushion the bill”.

“It was important that we got that ready and had it in place, so that next week it will be seen in people’s bills,” he added.

“We introduced a new eight per cent grant for people to insulate their homes, which is the best way of responding to the crisis, to actually reduce the cost, reduce use of fuel, reduce the influence of the Russian government in our economic affairs by their control on oil supplies and gas supplies.”

He said that further measures will have to be more targeted to help homes at most risk of fuel poverty.

However, Mr Doherty accused the minister of “saying nothing” on addressing the rising cost issues.

Social Democrats co-leader Roisin Shortall said that 1.3 million customers will pay 23 per cent more for electricity and 25 per cent more for gas.

She urged the Government to do more, saying it was not an “innocent bystander”.

“If energy companies were compelled to put customers on their beneficial tariff, instead of instantly jacking up prices at the end of an introductory 12-month contract, their profit margins would decline slightly, but it would make a huge difference to their vulnerable customers,” she added.

“(The Government) can’t just ring its hands, as you’re doing, and watch dispassionately from the sidelines, as workers and families are squeezed for every penny that they’re worth.

“There are things you can do, targeted measures that would make a real difference to those most in need.

“Age Action Ireland has highlighted that just one third of older people get the fuel allowance and that payment is not keeping pace with soaring energy price rises.

“It wants you to replace the fuel allowance with an energy guarantee, which means a guaranteed number of free units of energy per month instead of a cash payment.

“This would mean more people qualify for assistance and this would insulate them from certain price shocks.

“If they were forced to wait for your retrofitting scheme minister, they would never be warm. Workers and families can’t use Green Party hot air to warm their homes.”

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett urged the Government to declare an emergency in the cost of living, and immediately introduce a package of measures to alleviate the cost of living prices.

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