The CRU Customer Protection Measures can be found here.

The CRU has today announced the introduction of specific customer protection measures for the coming winter, to strengthen the existing protections that are currently in place.

Wholesale electricity and gas prices have decreased during 2023 but remain higher than historic norms, with both reaching peaks of approximately 500% higher than their price in January 2021. While the CRU would expect to see some movement on prices in the last quarter of this year, these reductions will not be to pre-January 2021 levels, and it is important that customer protections measures are in place to protect all customers.

New enhanced measures were introduced last winter in the context of this extreme volatility in global energy prices, with the objective of enhancing protection for domestic electricity and gas customers during the 2022/23 winter period.   These protections have been reviewed by the CRU in terms of retail market monitoring data and feedback from customer representative groups, network operators and suppliers to fully understand the impact for customers, including vulnerable customers.

The analysis showed that the enhanced customer protection measures have had a significant impact on protecting customers during winter 2022. As a result of this, many of the measures will remain in place until summer 2024, after which a further review will be carried out.

Some of the key measures that will remain in place are:

  • Extended Debt Repayment Periods:  Debt repayment plans are extended to allow a minimum of 24 months for customers to repay debt. Customers may repay debt in a shorter period if they prefer.
  • Reduced Debt Burden on Pay-As-You-Go Top-Ups: The debt repayment level on Pay-As-You-Go meters will remain at 10% (i.e., a €20 vend would have €2 deducted to pay the debt).
  • Better Value for those on Financial Hardship Meters: All customers with a financial hardship meter must be placed on the cheapest tariff available from their supplier.
  • Promotion of Vulnerable Customer Register:  Suppliers are required to actively promote the vulnerable customer register and the protections it offers.  The register saw a significant increase in the number of registered vulnerable customers last year with the expectation that this trend will continue as further communications are issued

The moratorium on disconnections for all domestic customers is already in place between mid-December and mid-January and was extended until 28 February 2023. The moratorium for customers registered as being particularly vulnerable to winter disconnections was also extended last winter.

The CRU market monitoring has shown a significant rise in numbers of customers in arrears as well as levels of debt. While the Moratorium on disconnections provides assistance to customers during the winter period, the CRU is also concerned that it meant there was an extended period during which suppliers were not contacting customers in debt, which may also have contributed to rising arrears levels. In this context, the CRU will decide on the length of this winter’s general moratorium in September.

Due to the mandatory procedures in place through the handbook for suppliers to disconnect domestic customers, once the moratoria ended on 31 March, disconnection figures did not see a significant increase.

These customer protections are complemented by the supplier-led Energy Engage Code that provides a further level of security for domestic electricity and gas customers who are having difficulty in paying a bill. Under this code, suppliers will not disconnect customers who engage with them and must provide every opportunity to customers to avoid disconnection.

Commenting on the announcement, Karen Trant, Director of Customer Policy & Protection said: “The CRU is aware of the challenges that high energy prices and in some cases, bill arrears, continue to have on customers. The CRU reviewed the impact of the enhanced customer protections last winter and found that these were important in assisting customers through a difficult time. We are therefore extending the key protections for this winter, when high costs and debt are likely to remain a challenge. We are continuing to monitor the market, including price trends and levels of arrears and will determine timelines for the disconnection moratorium in the coming weeks.”.