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Irish electricity is still ridiculously expensive...

But why? We pay the third highest tariffs in the EU, behind only Germany and Denmark.
May 31st 2015, 7:30 PM 22,043 83

shutterstock_229157503 Source: Shutterstock/Sean Liew

YOU MAY WANT to turn your TV and Playstation off standby – Irish electricity is the third most expensive in the EU.

New figures from Eurostat, the Union’s statistics hub, show Ireland sitting on average electrical tariffs of €25.40 per 100 kilowatt-hours (kWh).

In layman’s terms, we’re paying well above the EU average for our electricity, and when taxes and levies are discounted we have the most expensive power to be found anywhere in Europe.

Eurostat Source: Eurostat

In the same rankings last year Ireland finished fourth highest in the EU when it came to expensive electricity.

In the last year prices have increased here by 5.4%, giving us the third highest rate of increase behind France (a whopping 10.2%) and Luxembourg (5.6%).

To give an idea of the rate we’re dealing with – the UK, our closest neighbour, has average charges of €20.1 per 100 kWh, 21% lower than what we’re seeing here. As a caveat, at 5% the UK boasts the joint lowest tax charge on power in the EU.

At least our taxes and charges are relatively benign – at 18% the levies we pay on electricity are well below the EU average of 32%.

Still, the fact remains the Irish are paying through the nose for their power, so why is that the case?

eurostat2 Source: Eurostat

Exposed

A range of issues have been blamed by our energy companies in the past for our sky-high rates.

Electric Ireland told the Irish Independent previously that Eurostat bases its figures on “lower average consumption figures than are found here”.

They further stressed that Ireland relies heavily on imported fossil fuels to generate our electricity, leaving the power companies more exposed to international fuel markets, transport costs and foreign currency issues than other countries.

When contacted by TheJournal.ie with regard to the Eurostat report an Electric Ireland spokesman said that while the organisation is “not in a position to comment” at present, the company is “aware that the Eurostat report does not reflect recent price decreases”.

At a meeting of the Oireachtas Transport Committee in February, general manager at Electric Ireland Jim Dollard was adamant energy is priced as low as it possibly can be in Ireland.

“You can’t accuse us of creaming customers, we’re doing the best we can, and just like prices our own margins are below the European average for utility companies,” he said at the time.

Dollard added that assuming other factors remain calm the price of our energy will fall, with the biggest impact probably to be seen towards the end of this year and into 2016.

At the same meeting Dave Kirwan, managing director of Bord Gáis Energy, was in agreement.

“The fall of the Euro against Sterling is huge given we import so much power from the UK,” he said.

All these things undermine wholesale price decreases.
So what can be done about the problem?
Speaking to TheJournal.ie, Dermott Jewell of the Consumers’ Association of Ireland said that the Eurostat figures “simply copper-fasten” the fact that there is a major issue with Irish utility prices.

DERMOT JEWELL Dermott Jewell Source: Graham Hughes/Photocall Ireland!

“There’s an illusion of competition in Ireland, but that’s all it is, an illusion,” said Jewell.
Clearly the cost of generating our electricity is way too high. Let’s look to the market and see why things cannot be done cheaper.
Something is definitely wrong. Is it salaries, bonuses, other costs? What is making us so much more expensive than our counterparts?
We need to learn how to make things better so we come in line with others who clearly know how to keep their costs down. There has to be a better deal for Irish consumers.
We can but hope.

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Read: Power isn’t quite paying like it used to for ESB

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Cianan Brennan

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