The Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) has noted the increase in Electricity and Gas Prices announced today by Bord Gáis Energy.
The CRU is aware of the impact that this may have on households and small businesses, especially those that may already be struggling to pay their bills. The CRU notes that we are currently in a period of unprecedentedly high and volatile international gas prices.
The provision of the Government Electricity Cost Emergency Benefit Scheme in April will provide some relief to customers and the CRU is continuing to remind all electricity and gas customers to be aware of their rights and the range of measures that are in place to protect them.
Under the supplier led Energy Engage Code, there is a further level of security for domestic electricity and gas customers. This code encourages customers, who are having difficulty in paying a bill, to engage with their supplier regarding the management of debt.
Under the Energy Engage Code, suppliers
• will not disconnect a customer who is engaging with them
• must provide every opportunity to customers to avoid disconnection
• must identify customers at risk of disconnection and encourage them to talk to them as early as possible
• must offer a range of payment options, such as a debt-repayment plan for a customer in arrears
Switching supplier or renegotiating with your current supplier can still deliver savings for active customers and is important that customers ensure they are on the best tariff for their needs.
There are three CRU accredited switching websites, Bonkers.ie, Switcher.ie and PowertoSwitch.ie, which provide accurate information on the best deals currently available and can help customers switch.
In addition, suppliers now offer Time of Use tariffs for the more than 700,000 customers with Smart Meters which will allow them to benefit from lower, off-peak electricity prices.
Customers may find themselves in vulnerable situations at different times which may result in having difficulties when dealing with their suppliers and network operators. These customers are entitled to additional protections and suppliers are required to have a vulnerable customer register in place and actively engage with customers who they think may be eligible to inclusion.
A vulnerable customer is defined as somebody who may be critically dependent on electrically powered equipment such as life protecting devices and medical equipment or be a customer who my particularly vulnerable to disconnection during winter months for reasons of advanced age or physical, sensory, intellectual or mental health.