Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Michael Moynihan TD, says the Energy Regulator should appear before the Oireachtas to explain why repeated price increases have been granted despite a surge in the number of gas disconnections.
Deputy Moynihan was speaking after figures published by the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) revealed that gas disconnections rose by 36% between July and September last year.
“The CER figures tell us that almost 2,500 customers had their electricity cut off in the third quarter of 2012,” said Deputy Moynihan.
“10,000 people had to go without electricity in that period, considering the average household has 4 members. This is wholly unacceptable and even more worrying considering gas prices have risen by an average of 30% in the last 2 years.
“In October last year, the CER granted Bord Gáis a price increase of 8.5%, which was higher than the 7.54% increase the company applied for. This has never been fully explained or justified and people are rightly furious with this.
“How could the CER grant a price increase above what was requested by Bord Gáis, knowing that disconnections were jumping by such numbers? The CER claims that it looks after the interests of its customers, especially the disadvantaged and the elderly by ensuring that standards of services are set and codes of practices are in place to protect vulnerable users.
“This is not happening, the most vulnerable are not being protected. It is simply not fair to ask hard pressed families to repeatedly pay more for their electricity; this is on top of cuts to Child Benefit; the One Parent Family Payment and the Back to School Allowance. We have the Property Tax and Water Charges coming down the line; families are at breaking point and they despair to see the CER, who is supposed to defend their rights, granting price increases above what the energy companies requested.
“Fianna Fáil has also previously called on Minister Rabbitte to take more of an active role in the activities of the CER. He has taken no discernible interest to date, what will it take for the Minister to act on this?
“If the Regulator were to appear before the Oireachtas Committee on Communications, Energy and Natural Resources then we could finally get some answers as to the CER’s role in this.”