Charity warning on energy prices
A leading charity has warned planned price hikes in electricity and gas will place greater financial and emotional pain on struggling households.
Bord Gais is expected to announce increases of around 100 euro a year in electricity and over 170 euro annually for gas for hundreds of thousands of customers.
The company blamed a surge in energy prices but the Society for St Vincent de Paul said the extra bills will heap pressure on cash-strapped families.
"We are concerned that such a price increase, given the reduced incomes that most people are experiencing, will mean greater financial pressure and greater emotional pressure on lower-income households trying to make ends meet," a spokesman said.
Later this week Bord Gais is set to announce its electricity bills will jump by more than 10% from August 1 while its gas prices will surge by about 25% from October 1.
The company is already working with 110,000 customers behind with their payments.
Average electricity prices with Bord Gais currently stand at 989 euro a year, with gas at 689 euro.
Company sources have stressed the planned hikes mark the first time that Bord Gais has increased its electricity prices, claiming they have already cut them twice.
Wholesale gas prices have increased by almost 40% in the last year, with prices predicted to continue to rise.
St Vincent de Paul said in 2009 it provided six million euro worth of assistance to householders struggling with their energy bills and warned the figure would remain steady for 2010 and 2011.