Price hikes have resulted in the highest complaints to the energy regulator since the financial crash.
There was a 78 percent increase in complaints to the Commission for the Regulation of Utilities (CRU) in the first three months of the year compared to the same period last year.
It comes as UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres accused oil and gas companies of making “excessive” profits from the energy crisis sparked by the war in Ukraine. He said it was “immoral”.
Mr. Guterres called for a windfall tax for energy companies, noting that combined first-quarter profits for the largest energy companies were nearly €100 billion.
Troubled households here faced 58 energy price hikes in 18 months.
Amid the rapid increases, consumers are flocking to the CRU to contest increases, many of which are in the double digits each time.
This week alone around 1.2 million Electric Ireland customers have been hit by a further €477 combined increase on gas and electricity. It’s the provider’s fourth price increase in a year and a half.
Households will have to shell out an additional 1,500 euros a year for electricity and heating costs.
The skyrocketing number of complaints to the regulator is despite the fact that by law it has no role in regulating consumer prices.
In a new report, CRU said its customer care team handled 2,208 phone calls, 4,085 emails, 269 web inquiries and 74 letters in the first three months of this year.
This is 52 percent higher than at the end of last year and 78 percent higher than in the same quarter last year.
“A large number of contacts related to high energy prices and price increases announced by utilities,” the CRU said in its quarterly report on customer contacts and complaints.
Many households questioned the government’s payment of the €200 credit on electricity bills.
The payment was €176.22 before VAT, at the same time VAT on utility bills was reduced. This prompted consumers to complain that they only get €192.08 credit on their electricity bill.
Bright Energy’s exit from the market in January and the transfer of its customer base to existing suppliers also caused complaints.
Michael Kilcoyne, chairman of the Consumers’ Association of Ireland, said it was no surprise that there had been such a surge in complaints.
“These companies make huge profits from people’s misery. We need windfall taxes,” he said. Mr Kilcoyne added that huge energy price hikes were partly responsible for the Treasury running a surplus of nearly €5 billion in the seven months to July. He said the government is benefiting from rising VAT receipts.
“Energy companies take money from the poor and it goes into the treasury and energy company profits,” he said.
Sinn Féin, Labor and People Before Profit have all called on the government to introduce a windfall tax on energy.
Last week, Bord Gáis Energy reported that operating profit for the first half of this year rose 74 percent to €39.4 million from the same period last year.
Earlier this year, the company that owns Electric Ireland reported operating profit of nearly €700m for last year, up 10% from 2020.
Government officials have reviewed the introduction of a windfall tax.
https://www.independent.ie/business/personal-finance/un-wants-windfall-tax-on-energy-companies-as-complaints-rise-sharply-41890891.html The UN wants an unexpected tax on energy companies as complaints soar