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The Big Four of Irish energy were accused of 'fleecing' their customers today

Most gas and electricity price decreases will be seen later this year apparently

LABOUR TD EAMONN Maloney accused Ireland’s energy companies of withholding gas price decreases from their customers at a meeting of the Transport Committee this morning.

The Dublin South-West deputy was the most animated interrogator present at the meeting which saw representatives of all four companies (Energia, Airtricity, Electric Ireland, and Bord Gáis Energy) stick to a fairly uniform hymnsheet.

maloney labour Eamonn Maloney

There has been a lot of consternation in recent times that the fall in energy prices globally (currently they stand at their lowest level in years) is not being reflected in our energy prices.

“You’re at one about price reduction in the last 13 months, despite your estimates being 10% lower than that of energy experts,” Maloney told the company men.

But your talk of doing it all for the customers and a competitive market is just a smokescreen.
The reality is Irish people resist change, and you have fleeced your loyal customers, and now you can’t even tell us how much prices are going to come down by.

Energia’s Tom Gillen was easily the most forthright of the four present in response (possibly because his company only joined the residential market in 2014).

“Customers aren’t affected by our costs, things like energy efficiency statutes, system costs, foreign exchange volatility, so it is common sense that when wholesale gas prices come down not all of it is passed onto the customer,” he said.

Tom Gillen energis Tom Gillen, Managing Director at Energia

The fact is Irish residential costs are lower than the Eurozone average and 30% less than those in Germany.
As far as what our price reductions will be, it would be foolish to give away what we intend in such a competitive market, simple as that.

Aside from that exchange, the four men mostly stuck to the party line that energy prices can only reduce to a certain extent as almost all our gas is imported and all of it is hedged to protect customers from volatility.

Other points made included:

  • The price of oil is irrelevant to the debate, as oil only accounts for 1% of energy used in ireland.
  • Wholesale movements in prices only contribute about 30% to the cost of energy, with administration, currency volatility and suppliers of greater importance.
  • Irish energy is an incredibly competitive market, and prices paid by customers are 2% below the Eurozone average.
  • Gas may have fallen in 2014, but it’s very much on the way back up in 2015 with wholesale prices increasing 8% so far this year alone.

Jim Dollard of Electric Ireland (formerly ESB) 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.

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

Dave Kirwan of Bord Gáis Energy was in agreement.

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

All these things undermine wholesale price decreases.
But over the next couple of months we’ll do our best, we’ll monitor prices, and if there’s further price decreases we can pass onto customers we’ll be delighted to do so.

Read: Bord Gáis Energy’s new owner has taken a big hit because of warm weather

Read: KPMG to check if €500k was misappropriated from Bord Gáis Eireann

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