Fianna Fáil today launched a Bill aimed at protecting electricity customers who are struggling with their finances from being unfairly disconnected.
The Energy Regulation (Code of Conduct) Bill 2013 came before the Dáil today, which, if accepted, will protect customers in financial difficulty from having their electricity or heating cut off unnecessarily.
Deputy Moynihan commented: “Since 2010, the number of families that have had their electricity disconnected in Ireland has risen sharply. In fact, in 2011 and 2012 over 17,000 customers were disconnected.
“At the moment there is no statutory protection in place for families that face having their electricity cut off. The Fianna Fáil Bill will introduce a Code Of Conduct for energy suppliers, which would be enshrined in law. At the moment the guidelines on disconnections issued by the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) cannot be enforced and allows electricity suppliers discretion in their application.
“No one wants to have their electricity or heating cut off; these are the first bills that families pay if they can afford it. Electricity and heating are basic requirements and shutting them off must be used as a last resort. The human cost for families that have their electricity cut off is enormous. Often the process around reconnection costs hundreds of euro. Instead of easing the burden this places even more pressure on the families.
“Studies show that the payment plans put forward by energy suppliers for customers in difficulty are often unrealistic. The Fianna Fáil Bill calls for new guidelines compelling energy companies to offer targets that are attainable for customers in distress.”