Following a doubling in the rate of electricity disconnections in the four months up to July last and a warning yesterday by Bord Gáis of a “social middle-class recession,” the Oireachtas Committee on Communications, Energy and Natural Resources has called Bord Gáis, ESB, Airtricty and the Commission for Energy Regulation to a meeting of the Committee set for next Wednesday September 29th.
110,000 families who ran up huge arrears on their electricity and gas bills over the past nine months have been forced to sign special repayment plans, to avoid having services cut off.
Bord Gáis is now disconnecting 230 homes per month from gas supplies while the ESB is disconnecting 900 Irish homes each month or some 30 homes each day.
The Oireachtas Committee, of which Tipperary North TD Noel Coonan is a member, have taken this action following concerns expressed regarding the high disconnection rate in recent months, the cost of reconnection and the recent increases in electricity prices.
Speaking to Thurles.Info Deputy Coonan stated:
“Many households in North Tipperary have been impacted by disconnections. It has been revealed that almost 2,500 households a month, some 80 a day, are having their electricity disconnected after failing to pay their bills. In total, as of the beginning of September, 10,678 customers had been disconnected, more than in the whole of 2009. Bord Gáis is introducing a range of payment plans every five minutes for customers across the country, who have fallen into arrears. Electricity suppliers and the Regulator have agreed to our request to attend, so the Committee and I look forward to putting these issues to them and finding out how they intend to handle this worrying trend in North Tipperary and nationwide.”
There is also great concern among Oireachtas Committee members that the price for reconnecting electricity is excessively high and prohibitively expensive for many consumers.