Electricity and gas suppliers pushed through huge increases in basic charges during the energy crisis.
Some suppliers now charge up to 700 euros a year as a basic fee – these are incurred regardless of the customer’s energy consumption.
An investigation by Bonkers.ie and the independent.ie shows that providers have increased the basic fees for private customers by more than 300 euros in some cases.
Consumer advocates have questioned the fairness of raising base rates for squeezed households.
The base price should reflect the fixed costs of gas and electricity supply and not the unit energy costs.
The tax cannot be avoided by households and must be paid regardless of how much electricity or gas a household uses.
Wandering base fees reduce the attractiveness of green initiatives such as installing solar panels.
Such high subscription fees appear to be at odds with the government’s “Reduce Your Consumption” campaign.
The leader of the Irish Consumers’ Association, Michael Kilcoyne, has called on the government to change the rules to allow the energy regulator to play a role in setting base charges.
“A taxi driver needs a permit to raise prices, but it seems energy companies can do whatever they want, even though electricity is an essential service.”
Bonkers.ie’s Daragh Cassidy, who compiled the figures, said the magnitude of the increases over the past 18 months is difficult to justify. “And it means homes in need will have an even harder time reducing their energy bills.”
He said: “Depending on your supplier and the type of meter you have, you can pay up to €700 or €800 a year in basic charges alone before you’ve even turned on a light switch or the heat for an hour.”
Mr Cassidy said the charges are fixed and cannot be avoided, so all households will be affected regardless of income or usage.
He said a gas and electricity customer who has a prepaid meter could pay over €900 in subscription fees because they also have to pay an additional fee for the meter.
PrePayPower has some of the highest subscription fees.
We do not regulate basic fees. These are network fees. Sometimes they are picked up by the providers and sometimes they are passed on
Depending on the price plan, the basic electricity fee is between 500 and 700 euros per year. For petrol it is €228.
Electric Ireland’s base charge is up to €480 a year for electricity, an increase of €137 to €200 since last year.
And Bord Gáis Energy charges electricity customers between 280 and 458 euros per year, depending on the tariff.
The basic electricity fee from Flogas can be up to €600.
A spokesman for the regulator, the Commission for the Regulation of Utilities, said: “We do not regulate rental fees. These are network fees. Sometimes they are picked up by the providers and sometimes they are passed on. Ongoing charges form part of estimated financial statement information and are reported on accredited comparison websites.”
The figures were provided for each provider. According to PrePayPower, an increase in the basic fee is not an additional fee and has been included in all price announcements.
The focus should be on the Estimated Annual Bill (EAB). This shows that it has both the lowest standard unit rate and the lowest standard EAB on the market.
According to Electric Ireland, the basic charge is a combination of the fixed charges associated with providing and maintaining electricity to its customers.
“Although the recent price increase, which is scheduled to go into effect on October 1st, will not impact the base price for our customers, we have historically chosen to increase our base price so that we could minimize unit price increases, which is what our customers are looking for would allow us to continue consuming electricity at the lowest possible unit price.”
According to Bord Gáis Energy, the basic charge makes up about 9 to 12 percent of a customer’s bill and includes, among other things, the general and fixed costs related to gas and electricity.
“Bord Gáis Energy has always strived to keep its base fee as low as possible, but has been impacted by a significant increase in costs over the past two years.”
Flogas said its increases were among the lowest on the market compared to any other provider and it avoided huge increases in unit rates – while keeping base rates unchanged with the latest increase.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/cost-of-living-crisis-standing-charge-hikes-of-up-to-300-on-electricity-bills-regardless-of-your-energy-usage-41999028.html Cost of living crisis: Basic price increases of up to €300 on the electricity bill – regardless of energy consumption