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Energy prices

Varadkar: Energy price reductions must go further this winter

The Taoiseach and Minister Eamon Ryan met with four of Ireland’s largest energy companies this afternoon.

LAST UPDATE | 12 Sep 2023

ENERGY COMPANIES MUST reduce their prices further coming into the winter, Leo Varadkar said today.

The Taoiseach said that the price reductions of between 10-20% that had already been adopted were not enough and that companies will be paying a windfall tax on their profits this year, with the money raised to be used to alleviate the burden of high energy bills for Irish households.

The Energy (Windfall Gains in the Energy Sector) (Temporary Solidarity Contribution) Act, 2023 adopted this June will see energy companies paying up to €450 million in tax on profits this year.

Minister for Finance Michael McGrath also said that the government will be doing all it can to support households with energy bills.

Speaking at Fianna Fáil’s 2023 think-in in Tipperary, he said:

“The energy credits were very effective. We rolled out four in total, since we saw inflation increase significantly, but every energy credit is about €400 million. So these are not small decisions. These are very significant, costly decisions. We recognise the value of them for households and we will do the very best we can.”

The Taoiseach made the comments after a meeting with his Croatian counterpart Andrej Plenković at Farmleigh House today. The meeting was a wide ranging discussion on issues of common interest in Europe, including Ukraine, the cost of living crisis, and EU enlargement.

Varadkar and Minister for Climate Eamon Ryan met with representatives from Ireland’s largest energy retailers this afternoon to discuss energy prices.

The coalition partners told SSE Electricity, Bord Gáis Energy, Energia and Electric Ireland that the government is concerned by persistently high energy prices and to discuss solutions to support customers during the winter.

Following the meeting, the Taoiseach said he received commitments from the energy companies that they will “continue to help over the winter period, through their respective hardship funds, prompt customer service and minimising disconnections outside of the moratorium period, which last year covered October through to the end of March”.

He said the Commission for Regulation of Utilities will make a decision on this year’s moratorium period shortly.

“We also discussed the benefits of co-operation between the energy companies and Government on improving our energy efficiency, which is really important, not just because it’s the right thing to do, but also because retrofits, solar panels and other improvements, enhance quality of life and also reduce costs for customers over the medium to long-term.”

Northern Ireland

At Farmleigh House, the Taoiseach also briefed the Croatian PM on the ongoing situation in the north of Ireland.

Varadkar commented on the ongoing dispute with Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton Harris.

“I think in the past two years, the Irish government has been extraordinarily helpful to the UK government helped to secure EU agreement for changes to the protocol to secure the Windsor framework which we’re now very keen to see implemented and implemented in full,” he said.

“And also, we’ve always been available to assist the UK Government in their efforts to reestablish the executive and the assembly. And that offers two hands, very keen to work with the British government as closely as we can to achieve those objectives.”

The meeting also touched on EU enlargement, which the Taoiseach said was a desire held by both himself and the Plenković. Varadkar said that the war in Ukraine has had the effect of accelerating the programme for enlargement.

This was a sentiment shared by Plenković. He said that before the war, his government’s preference was towards consolidation of the existing membership, but that this had changed to enlargement since the Russian invasion.

Additional reporting by Lauren Boland

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