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21,000 had gas or electricity cut for not paying bills

Latest figures show 82 per cent more gas customers were cut off last year, compared to 2011.

Image: Vanessa (EY) via Flickr/Creative Commons

MORE THAN 7,000 households had their gas cut off last year for non payment, according to the latest figures from the Commission for Energy Regulation.

The figure represents an 82 per cent increase on 2011.

Around 14,650 homes had their electricity disconnected for not paying bills  - a marginal increase on last year.

The CER says there are now strict obligations in place on suppliers to make sure people are only cut off as a ‘last resort’, and that all providers now offer pay-as-you-go meters to households at risk of disconnection.

According to the Commission, there’s anecdotal evidence to suggest that ‘a significant number of disconnected properties are in fact vacant’.

Sinn Féin has described the level of cut-offs as ‘worrying’, with the party’s energy spokesperson Michael Colreavy calling the large increase in gas disconnections a ‘startling number’.

The Sligo-North Leitrim TD is calling for prepay metering to be made more widely available, saying the current system means only customers in significant arrears can avail of it.

According to the deputy “customers who are not in arrears must use private companies to install prepay meters on which they pay a charge, resulting in higher energy costs”.

Prepay meters must become available to all customers should they wish to use them. This would help families to better manage their electricity and gas bills.

Today’s CER report on the retail energy market shows a significant increase in the number of bill-related electricity cut-offs since the peak of the boom.

There were almost 4,000 fewer disconnections in 2008, compared to last year’s figure.

Read: €20 million seismic survey hopes to reveal Ireland’s true oil and gas wealth >

Read: Risk that Ireland won’t meet its EU emissions targets >

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