CRU Publishes Consultation on Uisce Eireann’s Non-Domestic Tariff Framework
The framework sets out the ‘rules’ for how tariffs are designed and the level of the tariff that customers pay for water and wastewater services.
We have published a consultation on an update to Uisce Éireann’s Non-Domestic Tariff Framework which will apply to its non-domestic customers. The framework sets out the ‘rules’ for how tariffs are designed and the level of the tariff that customers pay for water and wastewater services.
Uisce Éireann’s national tariff framework created a more equitable, stable and transparent billing method for over 188,000 non-domestic customers to support businesses, the Irish economy and inward investment.
- Uisce Éireann is proposing to update the framework and tariffs to reflect significant investment in water and wastewater infrastructure and services and to introduce new national harmonised trade effluent charging arrangements.
- CRU proposes to end all bill capping arrangements by 1st October 2026 to ensure equitable charging arrangements for all non-domestic customers.
- New trade effluent charging arrangements will also create strong incentives to reduce the volume and pollutant strength of trade effluent discharged at source into the public wastewater network.
Historically a wide range of non-domestic tariff levels, tariff categories, methodologies, applications, billing arrangements and billing cycles were in place across the country. This evolved under the previous water industry structure, overseen by 34 different Local Authorities and 10 Town Councils.
This resulted in over 500 separate charges for the provision of water and wastewater services to non-domestic customers of Irish Water across the country.
In October 2021, Uisce Éireann (then Irish Water) implemented the CRU approved national harmonised charging regime. This created a more transparent, simple, and equitable system of charging for their non-domestic water and wastewater customers.
The new non-domestic water and wastewater tariffs levels were fixed for 3 years, to provide price certainty and stability to customers, especially those customers who transitioned from their old tariff rates to the new enduring tariff rates over time. The 3-year transition period expires on 30th September 2024.
Currently, the framework does not contain a national set of harmonised charging arrangements to apply to connections licensed to discharge trade effluent into Uisce Éireann’s wastewater network. As a result, there is a wide range of separate arrangements currently in place. Many existing arrangements do not have strong incentives to reduce the level of pollutants and volume of trade effluent discharged into Uisce Éireann’s wastewater network.
Updating Uisce Eireann’s charging regime plays an important role in achieving broader policy objectives of decarbonising in a secure and sustainable way, incentivising conservation and protecting the environment, principles that are set out in the EU Water Framework Directive and the Government Climate Action Plan 2023.
New changes to the tariff framework
The CRU has asked Uisce Éireann to update the existing framework for the purposes of:
- Generating a suite of tariffs to apply to non-domestic connections at the end of the 3-year transition period (1st October 2024) that reflect up-to-date revenue and customer input data. This will ensure costs are allocated across tariff classes and services in an equitable and transparent manner and in line with the framework’s cost allocation rules.
- Generating proposals for new harmonised trade effluent charging arrangements and integrating these proposals into the Non-Domestic Tariff Framework.
These updates are designed to promote conservation, greater cost reflectivity, more efficient price signals to customers and create stronger incentives to reduce the volume and strength of trade effluent discharged into the wastewater network to better align with government environmental policy objectives and the polluter pays principle within the EU Water Framework Directive.
Customer Impact and Bill Capping
The new non-domestic water and wastewater tariffs will impact the amount paid by non-domestic customers from 1st October 2024 and will result in bill increases. Under Uisce Eireann’s new proposed water and wastewater tariffs and the proposed bill capping, the following bill impacts would occur:
- 172,837 (91.6%) connections would see annual bill increases of less than €250
- 8,100 (4.3%) connections would see annual bill increases of between €250 and €500
- 6,986 (3.7%) connections would see annual bill increases of between €500 and €5,000
- 702 (0.4%) connections would see annual bill increases of €5,000 or greater.
Some customers have already benefitted from 3 years of bill caping arrangements, but the CRU is mindful of the need to ensure equity across all non-domestic customers and that to achieve the objectives set out in the EU Water Directive and those of Government policy, that a definitive closure of capping arrangements is required.
On that basis, the CRU is proposing in the consultation an additional two years to transition all customers to cost reflective tariff and hat all capping arrangements for water and wastewater services should be unwound by 1st October 2026.
Commenting on the announcement, Director of Networks and Economic Regulation Karen Kavanagh said: “The update to the non-domestic tariffs reflects the significant and necessary increase in investment by Uisce Éireann to improve public water and wastewater infrastructure and services over this 5-year period. While this leads to customer bill impacts, the CRU has engaged with Uisce Éireann to ensure there are measures in place to help customers mitigate bill increases. These measures include providing customers with information on how to conserve water, improve efficiency of water use and wastewater disposal. The CRU will further engage with Uisce Éireann to understand what additional measures can be implemented to help customers mitigate future bill increases.”
The closing date is 15th February 2024. The CRU will host workshops with key stakeholders in January 2024 to support engagement with the consultation.