Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Energy Timmy Dooley says Minister Denis Naughten must rule out a price increase for electricity customers while repair works to the East-West interconnector are carried out.
The interconnector is one of two vitally important pieces of electricity infrastructure connecting the Single Electricity Market (SEM) in Ireland with the wholesale market in Britain, but it will be out of commission for the next five months.
Deputy Dooley said, “It’s surprising that Minister Naughten has failed to rule out any electricity price hikes while the repair works are being carried out. Energy prices here have not fallen despite a collapse in wholesale gas prices, and I have grave concerns that this outage could be used to push prices up.
“Wholesale Gas prices decreased by 29% in 2015 but customers are not seeing equivalent cuts in their electricity and gas bills by the main retail operators – in fact most prices have only reduced by around 5%.
“When questioned on the issue, Minister Naughten indicated that “the CER does not expect any significant rise in electricity retail prices as a result of this outage”. This does not inspire confidence that consumers will be protected against potential price increases.
“I will continue to press the Minister in the Dáil to ensure that the temporary downing of the EWIC does not result in consumers footing the bill for this outage”.