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NewsLet’s hope for a balmy spring – we can’t afford not to!

Let’s hope for a balmy spring – we can’t afford not to!

Let’s hope for a balmy spring – we can’t afford not to!

Gas prices have increased by more than a third in two years.

The last round of increases – of up to 2.04% – heaped almost €20 a year extra onto household bills.

Our other major energy bill– electricity is set to rise by an expected 2 % – adding further pressure on household budgets.

The last round of gas price increases added approximately €500 to home budgets over the past two years.

There was huge criticism of the Regulator in 2012 when it granted Bord Gais an 8.5pc rise, even though it initially sought a rise of 7.5pc.  That hike followed a 22pc hike in domestic gas prices in 2011.

Householders are feeling the pressure and many just can’t pay their bills.

So many in fact, that more than 7,000 households had their gas cut off last year for non-payment of bills, according to the Commission for Energy Regulation. The figure represents an 82 present increase on 2011.

Around 14,650 homes had their electricity disconnected for not paying bills – a marginal increase on last year.

Flogas Natural Gas had the lowest hike at 1.95% increasing bills for their 32,000 customers to €17.84, while Bord Gais Energy had the highest increase of 2.04% raising prices by €19 for their 380,000 customers.

The 110,000 customers of Electric Ireland had their bills increased by €18 a year, and Airtricity who have the same number of customers increased their rates by €16 a year.

Electric Ireland’s Jim Dollard blamed the price increase as “predominantly due to regulatory approved gas network costs.”

The International Energy Agency have assessed Ireland’s energy requirements – and Ireland’s future requirements.

It’s not good news for the consumer in the short term –but they say that Ireland is ideally geographically positioned to reap “one of the best wind and ocean resources in Europe.”

But, even if renewable energy sources are developed, this will result in an increased reliance on natural gas, as gas-fired power plants will be required to provide flexibility in electricity supply when wind power is unavailable.

The answer is to develop a range of gas and electricity infrastructure projects and to open up international trade – none of these are short term solutions – and may not even be long term solutions. So, how do you think householders will cope with increasing energy costs?

What measures can you take to reduce your gas bills?  Is wishing for a balmy spring our only hope of paying the next round of bills?

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