Airtricity to raise electricity prices 3.5%
on 28/09/2013 00:00:00
Airtricity said a number of factors, around 85% of which are outside its control, had influenced the hike. These include increases in the cost of using the energy networks to distribute electricity to customers' homes, along with the increased cost of buying energy in global markets.
Airtricity managing director Stephen Wheeler said it was "regrettable" that the company was forced to raise prices. "Unfortunately, the factors that contribute to the cost of energy all cost more than they did last year. As a result we cannot continue to absorb the sustained increases in energy costs that we are facing. That's why the price increase that we are announcing today, although completely regrettable, cannot be avoided."
Head of uSwitch.ie, Eoin Clarke, described the price hike as "another hammer blow" for energy bills this side of Christmas and said it was widely expected that Electric Ireland and Bord Gáis Energy will announce a similar price rises.
"Consumers now face a winter of rationing their energy usage - many will be forced to turn their heating down or off for fear of the impact of these hikes. Some households are already performing a juggling act to balance budgets and keep their heads above water. And the added pressure of the latest round of energy rises may be the straw that breaks the camel's back," he said.
Mr Clarke welcomed the company's commitment to assist any of its customers who have difficulty paying their bills.
Figures from the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) from the first quarter of this year show that the numbers switching both electricity and gas suppliers were up compared with the last quarter in 2012. There were 5,303 electricity pay as you go (PAYG) meters installed in the first quarter of this year - a 24.8% increase on the last quarter of 2012. A total of 4,369 gas PAYG meters were installed in the first quarter of this year, of which 82.7% were installed for financial hardship reasons - a 72.5% increase on the final quarter of 2012.
There were 2,691 disconnections for non-payment of electricity bills in this period, a substantial drop of over 46% when compared with the first quarter of last year.
Similarly, there were 860 gas disconnections - a drop of just under 50% when compared with the same period in 2012.