Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Energy Michael Moynihan has expressed surprise at reports of planned increases in electricity prices.  FBD is also warning today of price increases in the insurance sector.

Deputy Moynihan said: “Reports at the weekend suggesting households can expect electricity prices to rise by a further 5% in the coming years will be greeted with concern and real annoyance by consumers.  Families are already struggling to make ends meet and regulated sectors are going to have to demonstrate publicly the justification for further price hikes.

“I have pointed out before the need for a real consumer champion – a watchdog that will advocate for the public.  I’m concerned that some regulators risk becoming creatures of the sectors they’re supposed to be policing.  The Energy Regulator needs to show real teeth if companies come looking to hit households with higher bills.

“The property tax, water charges, increased motor tax, carbon tax on coal, turf and home heating oil and the private pension fund levy have all stripped hundreds of euro from families across the country in recent years.  The last thing households need is to be hit with more charges.  Families always feel increased pressure at this time of year with back to school costs and suggested hikes in electricity bills and insurance premiums will increase anxiety.

“Many businesses are also getting back on their feet, some have been able to take on extra staff or increase pay and further increases in their overheads will have a significant impact.

“The Government has established the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission but this will focus more on breaches of consumer protection legislation.  I believe watchdogs in regulated sectors are going to have an important role in the coming months in holding operators to account for any proposed increases.  I’m concerned about the energy sector and warnings coming from FBD about the insurance sector and significant price increases coming on stream there are a real worry.

“This is an issue that is going to require a lot of attention from government.  Different Ministers will have different roles over regulated sectors and there may well be a need to recast the remit of certain regulators in legislation.  Fianna Fáil is going to look closely at that issue in the weeks and months ahead.  If it becomes clear that regulators are not standing up for consumers and are blindly rubber-stamping increases that will hit households we are prepared to bring fresh legislation before the Dáil to deal with it.”