Following the further easing of Government restrictions from 29 June, the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) has taken the decision to normalise the level of emergency credit for Pay As You Go (PAYG) gas customers from €100 to the standard €10.
The CRU had put in place this measure to assist prepayment meter gas customers during the Government Covid-19 restrictions remain connected to their gas supply who may have been unable able to reach a retail outlet to purchase credit.*
In addition to the easing of Government restrictions over the last number of weeks that has allowed greater movement of people, the decision to return to the standard credit level was taken to protect consumers from accumulating greater emergency credit debt when there is a less of a requirement for this level of credit.
Customers will automatically be able to reduce the level of emergency credit debt over time as each time a customer purchases credit, a portion of this will be used to pay off the debt owed. If a customer has used all of the emergency credit available on their meter, this amount is required to be paid back before a customer can use the facility again and is an important customer protection measure during the winter months.
PAYG Customers should continue to top up their meters over the summer months to ensure this facility is available to them in the future.
It is estimated that just over 19,000 customers have availed of the emergency credit with an average debt per customer of €25. Based on the average usage of these customers and who did not have other accumulated emergency credit debt, customers would be able to eliminate this debt in approximately four weeks.
The CRU has also decided to extend the moratorium on domestic disconnections until 29 June and not beyond. Under the Energy Engage Code, domestic customers who are engaging with their suppliers regarding the management of debt, for example by agreeing a debt-repayment plan, should not be disconnected.
Commenting on the announcement, Aoife MacEvilly, Chairperson of the CRU said: “These measures were originally put in place to protect customers from losing electricity or gas supply at the height of the outbreak. With the accelerated lifting of restrictions, the CRU is now more concerned that these measures may expose customers to an unnecessary level of accumulated debt. We consider this is the most appropriate time to end these measures to ensure customers have the opportunity to pay down any debts that have built up, in advance of the winter months. We are advising gas prepay customers to continue to top up frequently and we are advising bill-pay customers with debts to engage with their suppliers on repayment options”.
Customers can find further information on the current Covid-19 protection measures on www.cru.ie or by calling our Customer Care Team on 1890 404 404.
*Customers with gas prepayment meters customers cannot top up remotely and are required to visit a post office or shop to purchase credit to keep their meter topped up. As some customers could have been unable able to reach a retail outlet as regularly during the lock down period, the CRU had taken the decision to increase emergency credit levels for all gas prepayment customers from €10 to €100 to help customers to remain connected.