Now is the winter of our discontent… or at best it is only weeks away as the population, especially older people face up to massive hikes in energy costs with the prospect of outages also an ever realistic prospect.
Already SSE Airtricity has announced that it is introducing a price hike from October 1; electricity bills will rise by 35%+, and gas bills to increase by 39%!
Earlier this summer, Electric Ireland (ESB) announced an increase in residential electricity bills by 10.9% and gas bills by 29.2%, already in effect. Last year, the group announced a 10% increase in its operating profits to €679m, while its dividend to the State rose by more than half to €126m.
Bord Gáis announced price increases in March, effective from April 15 last. The company confirmed the end of its winter price pledge, which protected customers over the colder winter period and announced an electricity bill increase by 27% and gas by 39%!
Our national broadcaster, RTÉ stated BP had half-year profits of $14.6b; Bord Gáis Energy and British gas owner Centrica reported half-year group profits of £1.3 b while SSE, the parent company of SSE Airtricity, reported a 15% increase in adjusted operating profit to £1.5b in the year to March 2022!
IBEC has called on the government to ensure an already concerned business sector is not further impacted by rising energy costs. Charities such as Alone, the St Vincent de Paul, Irish Kidney Association and Barnardos warn of the crippling impact of ever-increasing home heating costs.
While many blame the Russian-Ukrainian war for high global wholesale energy costs and market volatility, many commentators believe Ireland’s looming energy cost has been flagged for at least a decade.
Head of Communications for Alone, Frank Dillon has called on the government to increase the state pension by at least €20 per week, and stated the anticipated rise in electricity and home heating costs will cripple vulnerable families with the elderly the worst hit on so many levels.
“We did a survey for our pre-budget submissions – 92% of all elderly people surveyed are most distressed by heating and energy bills, followed by food prices (57%). Those surveyed would live on a low, fixed income – as in a state pension.
Heating costs, he said, are causing the most angst.
“That people will reduce the quality of their food consumption to allow for the increases in heating bills is alarming. That’s so wrong, added to the mental anguish that many on lower incomes worry about.
“We’re calling on an increase of the state pension this year and next by at least €20 per week, to meet commitments to benchmark the state pension. We also want the fuel allowance season to increase to 35 weeks and to be increased by €20 per week.”
He continued: “Loneliness remains the biggest factor of calls that we receive at Alone. To put it in context, if someone can’t afford to heat his/her home, they are less likely to invite someone into their home.”
The Irish Kidney Association (IKA) stated a person on home dialysis cannot choose to reduce the number of hours or treatment per week, nor can they reduce their home heating requirement as one of the side-effects of dialysis is a difficulty in keeping warm.
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