A pensioner living on her own has received a shocking electricity bill which has gone from €123 to €3,385 because her supplier has failed to read her meter for the past 24 months, Denis Naughten told the Dáil this afternoon.
“To add to her shock, she is being charged all of these arrears at the current electricity rate compounding the financial hardship she is now facing, while the electricity supplier gains an excessive profit due to the policy of charging this inflated unit rate,” explained Denis Naughten.
“And it seems that the regulator, the Commission for the Regulation of Utilities, is not too bothered about this exploitation of vulnerable electricity customers as the only obligation they place on electricity suppliers is that they must ‘attempt’ to take a meter reading four times per year.
“Once they do that by throwing a banal card in the letter box that requires the customer to source their MPRN number, the onus is then on the customer, many of them vulnerable customers in old energy inefficient homes, to submit a reading or face astronomical bills.
“This is just not good enough and electricity suppliers and the regulator cannot just wash their hands of responsibility especially with people struggling to pay for the increasing cost of electricity.
“Neither the practice of allowing estimated bills to continually roll over nor profiteering from backdating all arrears at the current unit rate should be tolerated,” said Denis Naughten.
Deputy Naughten pointed out to Energy Minister, Eamon Ryan TD, that: “In the UK under its ‘back billing’ rules an electricity supplier cannot send a bill for energy used more than 12 months previously.”
He asked the Minister what plans there are to do the same here in Ireland. “Disappointingly Minister Ryan gave no commitment to take such an approach, just to allow customers more time to pay the inflated bill,” concluded Denis Naughten.
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