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electricity and gas

Utilities disconnection moratorium to be extended this winter due to volatile energy prices

New minimum timelines for utilities debt repayments are also set to be brought in this winter.

AN EXTENDED MORATORIUM on utility disconnections this winter has been announced, with vulnerable customers unable to be disconnected from October to March.

An overall moratorium will prevent any gas or electricity customer from being disconnected between 1 December and 28 February, while vulnerable customers will receive additional protections from between 1 October to 31 March.

This means that ESB Networks and Gas Networks Ireland will be unable to disconnect customers for any reason, including non-payment, during those periods.

The measures were announced by the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) this afternoon and being brought in to add additional protections to both gas and electricity customers amid volatile energy prices.

Alongside the extended disconnection moratoriums, a new minimum timeline for debt repayments will be introduced from 1 November.

This will give customers a minimum of 24 months to pay back debts to their utility provider, but will also be able to repay in a shorter timeframe if they prefer.

Utility companies will also be required to place customers who are on a financial hardship meter on the cheapest tariff available.

There will also be changes to the debt burden on pay-as-you-go top ups, with electricity supplies only allowed to deduct 10% of a top up to tackle debts. For example, a €20 top up would lead to a €2 debt reduction.

“The CRU is acutely aware of the significant challenges that all customers have been and will be facing in the context of increasing energy costs this winter,” said CRU Chairperson Aoife MacEvilly.

While the current measures provide a high level of protection for all customers, our focus was to enhance protection and security for the customers in greatest difficulty, including vulnerable customers, customers in debt and customers on financial hardship prepayment meters.

“These requirements will remain in place for all suppliers subject to future CRU reviews, with the first of these reviews to be undertaken in summer 2023.”

The plan comes amid concerns about energy supplies this winter, with Environment Minister Eamon Ryan saying that Ireland will need to be “very careful” with energy use over the winter months.

He told RTÉ yesterday that there is “no doubt we’re facing into a very challenging situation” but expects the country to be able to “keep the lights on”. 

“We expect to be able to provide the power that this country needs in the next two to three months,” Ryan said.

However, he added that the price of energy will be the “biggest challenge” this winter for both households and businesses.

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