Government TD Accuses Minister Of Throwing €170m At Ireland's Energy Problem

The government is considering plans to give all householders a €100 grant for energy bills.

A €100 grant for all householders will not solve Ireland's problem with energy costs, according to a midlands TD.

It's among the options being considered by government to help ease financial pressure on consumers over the winter.

But Fianna Fáil's Barry Cowen is accusing the Energy Minister of throwing €170 million euro at the problem, rather than actually addressing it.

The Laois-Offaly deputy says a failure to provide adequate competition has allowed the ESB to dominate the market and drive up prices.

He last week accused the semi-state body of "extracting super normal profits" from consumers, due to its monopoly.

He's re-iterating calls for a investigation into Eirgrid and the Commission for Regulation of Utilities' role in the matter;

"Eirgrid, in the first instance, is charged with the responsibility of implementing government policy and I think they've failed in that.

"And the regulator, of course ,is supposed to oversee a competitive, fair market and I don't believe that's there presently - and that's being reflected in the bills that are arriving into the households throughout the country.

"Batting it away with a €100 grant in January, as welcome as it might be, doesn't address the significance of this issue."

The proposed credit would cover the first two months of 2022 and be deducted in March. Households wouldn't have to do anything to claim the discount.

Political Editor with the Irish Examiner Danny McConnell says the government was conscious that it would have to do something to help this winter:

"My understanding is that essentially it's all been tied up with the energy companies.

So a flat payment would go from the central exchequer to the energy companies and this credit would be applied to every domestic bill. It's not certainly being given to any businesses."

The proposed scheme is is expected to be brought to Cabinet next Tuesday.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe says they're looking at how to ease the financial pressure on households:

"We are looking at some options...particularly in relation to bills at the end of this year and at the start of this year.

"I can't confirm some of some of things that have been reported today because they haven't gone to government yet."

Deputy Cowen says a new organisation representing independent energy suppliers has also expressed concern about issues he raised in the Dáil.

He voiced his concerns on Ireland's energy market in the Dáil chamber twice in the last two months.

In a statement to Midlands 103, he explained;

"The Independent Energy Suppliers of Ireland (IESI) is a new organisation which represents independent companies who sell electricity and gas to retail and business customers through the national grid.

"Founding members of the organisation are Naturgy, Panda and PrepayPower. Between them these companies supply electricity and gas to circa 220,000 households and some of Ireland’s biggest businesses."

"The IESI has said that the issues raised are serious and warrant a detailed response from the company and the Minister."

A spokesman for the IESI added;

“We share Deputy Cowen’s concerns.

"There have been some inexplicably high offer prices from generators in the Irish market, and most notably by the ESB, this year.

"The prices being offered are far in excess of the levels justified by increases in gas prices.

"ESB need to explain why they are demanding such high prices for baseload generation.

"We hope that Deputy Cowen’s arguments will encourage a wider review and discussion about pricing behaviour by the ESB which could be to the benefit of the whole economy.”

Barry Cowen says there's an onus on Energy Minister Eamon Ryan and his Department to investigate the matter and ensure Eirgrid and the CRU are doing what the can to improve competition in the market.

He says;

"He [Minister Ryan] has acknowledged that he hasn't come back in the sort of detail that is necessary and I await his response in the detail that is necessary."

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