Fianna Fáil Energy Spokesperson Michael Moynihan TD has called for a fundamental review of the role and powers of the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER). Deputy Moynihan’s comments come following the failure of energy companies to pass on the positive effect of falling oil, coal and wholesale gas prices.
Deputy Moynihan commented, “For a number of years I have repeatedly raised my voice in criticism of the inaction of CER as energy prices continued to rise and the absence of ministerial action in the area. Repeatedly, the only response I have received has been to the effect that politicians have to stay out of the debate and that energy prices need to rise because of rising wholesale prices.
“However, now that the price of oil, coal and gas has fallen significantly and I and others call for these savings to passed on to electricity and gas consumers, we are told that there is simply nothing that can be done.
“Is this really acceptable? In my view it raises the fundamental question of whether our Energy Regulation regime is any longer fit for purpose. If the Regulator’s only function is to preside over price increases and then just shrug when the price of oil collapses and utilities maintain record high prices, something is radically wrong and has to change.
“Fianna Fáil is calling for a fundamental review of the role and powers of the Commission for energy Regulation. This body is entrusted with the role of safeguarding the interests of the utilities’ customers and in our view it is failing in this role. The situation where energy utility prices can only go up and we are powerless to effect any sort of benefit when oil prices go down, needs to be addressed.
“One option that should be considered for example in the short term is much more onerous requirements on energy companies to inform customers when their time on promotional rates ends and the price increase represented by their move to standard tariffs.
“Fianna Fáil will also be requesting that the energy companies themselves come before the Oireachtas Committee to explain their pricing policies and failure to pass savings on to customers.”