MORE THAN 14,500 homes had their electricity disconnected over unpaid bills during 2011 – or almost 40 for every day.
Some 14,508 domestic customers lost their supply, according to new figures from the Commission for Energy Regulation. There were also 3,286 businesses whose electricity was disconnected, bringing the total to 17,794.
This represents a seven per cent increase on the figures for 2010, which might suggest that more households are struggling to meet basic expenses.
However, there was a 14 per cent drop in the number of households who had their gas disconnected. The figure for 2011 was 4,243. Earlier this month, the CER said that fewer energy customers had had their supplies disconnected in the first eight months of 2011.
The CER said up to 30 per cent of domestic electricity disconnections are to vacant homes – or homes which became vacant – as nobody has applied for reconnection. For businesses, the figure was 60 per cent.
Airtricity imposed the highest rate of disconnections among domestic electricity customers, with Flogas in the same position for households using gas.
Currently, the CER requires that suppliers pay at least 50 per cent of the cost of disconnection. It announced today that it was extending this policy for another 12 months until the end of 2012.
“It reduces the incentive on suppliers to request disconnection before all other options have been exhausted,” the regulator said in its annual report.