Energy bill defaults concern councillors

by Gazette Reporter

LOCAL councillors have called on the Minister for Energy Pat Rabbitte to tackle the rising cost of gas and electricity.

Cllr Trevor Gilligan (FF) and Cllr Gino Kenny (PBP) both said that they were concerned about the rise in electricity and gas disconnections locally.

Cllr Gilligan said it calls into question the role and performance of the energy regulator, as it was revealed that 20,000 people countrywide had been disconnected last year.

He said: “There are many families in my own area of Clondalkin and right across Dublin who are under enormous pressure with their mortgages and household bills at the moment. This will only increase their stress and anxiety.

“Incredibly, gas disconnections rose by 82% in 2012, and come at a time when the utility companies are making massive profits.”

Cllr Kenny said that it was a growing concern for him, also.

He said: “I don’t come across it every day, but it is a problem for people in the area.

“People that I’ve dealt with have found the utilities companies fairly ruthless, overall. I would think that these companies have a civil duty and a moral duty not to cut people off.

“It’s not substantial amounts of money we’re talking about, here. It’s a sign of the times in the economy, really.”

Cllr Gilligan called on Minister Rabbitte to bring up the cost of rising prices with the regulator.

He said: “[Minister Rabbitte needs] to take more of an interest in spiralling energy costs for households and to do his job and raise concerns with the Commissions for Energy Regulation.

“This is a very serious issue that the regulator must address as a priority.

“Electricity prices rose by 9% last year, with gas prices increasing by 12%. The families I am meeting every week are under huge strain, and do not need the added pressure of potentially having their electricity or gas cut off,” said Cllr Gillilgan.

He was echoed by Cllr Kenny, who said; “There should be a more rigid price structure. These companies make a lot of money, and have an obligation to work with people, not disconnect them.”

The Department of Energy had not responded to a request for comment by the time of going to press.

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