Peak energy prices could be 50 per cent higher under the new plan to deal with the deepening crisis

Electricity customers have to pay up to 50 percent more for electricity at peak times to limit the impact of the energy crisis.

The move is being considered by the government and energy regulator in response to rising gas and electricity prices.

Nearly 750,000 homes that have smart meters installed could be placed on mandatory new “time of use” tariffs.

For privacy reasons, customers are currently required to opt-in to these tariffs as smart meters log household activity, and only about 10 percent have made the switch.

Energy Secretary Eamon Ryan said he was in talks with the Data Protection Commissioner about dropping the consent requirement.

“That’s the urgency and that’s the benefit, we will look at whether this is mandatory and use an opt-out rather than a voluntary approach,” he said.

The move would encourage households to use high-energy appliances late in the evening or overnight when cheaper tariffs apply.

The downside is that they would be charged more for use at peak times when most activities are concentrated out of habit and convenience. Electricity providers charge smart tariff customers 15 to 50 percent more during peak times from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Mr Ryan said gas-fired power generation plants need to be specially turned on to meet demand at peak times and, with gas prices skyrocketing, demand needs to be reduced.

Daragh Cassidy of bill comparison site said any move to push people into time-of-use plans must be accompanied by support for using those plans.

“People would need clear information about what the charges are and how best to use them, otherwise they could end up paying significantly more and not really changing their electricity consumption habits, which wouldn’t benefit anyone.”

The minister spoke after Electric Ireland announced price increases of 23-25 ​​per cent from May.

Mr Ryan defended the price hike even though Electric Ireland’s parent company, state-owned ESB, made profits of €679m last year.

He said the company had hedged against gas price hikes through bulk buying in advance, but the shares bought under that deal were gone and they were now buying in a market where prices have risen fivefold.

“ESB didn’t raise prices because they wanted to. It was a necessity like any other energy company,” he said.

A one-off energy bonus of 200 euros for households will be available from next week.

Mr Ryan said the government is looking at other measures and will seek help from the ESB, but any further action must target those at risk of fuel poverty.

He did not specify what measures, but did not rule out reducing national speed limits to encourage more energy-efficient driving and achieve reductions in diesel and gasoline consumption, the price of which has also skyrocketed.

The International Energy Agency recommended such a step. Mr Ryan said it would be most effective if adopted as an EU-wide measure.

The minister also said he would not rule out building a state-owned liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal to ship and store imported gas in liquefied form, but said it would be wrong to view LNG as “the great savior”. .

“The answer will not be to double fossil fuel use,” he said. “We will reduce our dependence on oil, coal and gas. The alternative will be green.”

Mr Ryan said the public was behind that response.

Since the new national retrofit program was announced seven weeks ago, requests for grants for solar panels, heat pumps, electric vehicle chargers and full retrofits had tripled.

He said he expects the first “one-stop-shop” service, with companies handling paperwork, installation and grant applications for retrofits, to launch next week. Peak energy prices could be 50 per cent higher under the new plan to deal with the deepening crisis

Fry Electronics Team

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