McGrath hits out at proposed gas charge hike

Independent Tipperary TD Mattie McGrath has described as contemptible and savage the request by Bord Gáis Energy to the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) for an increase of over 7% in residential gas tariffs from this October.

Independent Tipperary TD Mattie McGrath has described as contemptible and savage the request by Bord Gáis Energy to the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) for an increase of over 7% in residential gas tariffs from this October.

If approved experts say it would push the average annual domestic gas bill above €1,000 for the first time.

In a statement, the company confirmed it has applied for a 7.22% increase in residential gas tariffs from 1 October 2013:

“This request is absolutely outrageous. Only last September the CER approved an 8.5% rise in residential gas prices for the company and a massive 22% increase the year before that. Now they are planning another vicious price increase with no sign that there will not be more to follow.

What is fair and reasonable about forcing many thousands of families and indeed the elderly into effectively choosing between heating and eating?

The CER is expected to make a final decision on the price rise application by the end of August following a public consultation and a detailed review of Bord Gáis Energy’s costs. Bord Gais has said that other factors affecting the tariff include continuing upwards pressure on future wholesale gas prices and increases in supply costs:

“Every time one of these hikes are proposed we have the usual line trotted out about supposed pressures and supply costs. It is simply not sustainable to keep on repeating this ridiculous argument. Its 2011 annual report alone shows that turnover grew by 5% to €1.608 billion and earnings before interest and tax increased by 4% to €343m and this was before the massive price hikes that were approved by the CER over the last 2 years. Bord Gais badly needs to realise that when it speaks about its core values being empathy, performance and proactivity to ensure that the customer is at the centre of everything, then this has to mean more than fine words in its charter. These words must be translated into a just treatment of the ordinary consumer who year on year is being fleeced by these cruel increases and who are being driven further in fuel poverty with no one to effectively guard their interests now that the CER have abandoned that statutory role,” concluded Deputy McGrath.