Electricity and gas companies imposed massive fixed-fee increases during the energy crisis.
Some suppliers now charge up to €700 per year in flat fees – which are charged regardless of how much energy the customer is using.
Inquiry from Bonkers.ie and independent It reveals that providers have raised the standing fee for resident customers by more than €300 in some cases.
Consumer advocates have questioned the fairness of raising parking fees for families under severe pressure.
Standing charges are supposed to reflect the fixed costs associated with providing gas and electricity supplies, not the unit cost of energy.
Fees cannot be avoided by households, and must be paid regardless of how much electricity or gas the home uses.
Hiking fees reduce the appeal of eco-friendly initiatives such as the installation of solar panels.
It appears that charging such a high fee goes against the government’s drive to reduce your use.
Michael Kilcoyne, president of Consumers Ireland, has called on the government to change the rules to allow the energy regulator to have a role in setting permanent charges.
The taxi driver needs approval for a price increase, but it seems the energy companies can do as they please even though electricity is a basic service.
Dara Cassidy of Bonkers.ie, who compiled the numbers, said the scale of the increases over the past 18 months was hard to justify. This means that it is even more difficult for stressed families to cut energy bills. “
“Depending on your supplier and the type of meter you have,” he said, “you could pay up to €700 or €800 a year in flat fees on your own before you hit the light switch or turn on the heating for an hour.”
Cassidy said the fees are fixed and unavoidable, so they affect all households, regardless of income or use.
He said a customer who has gas and electricity, and has a prepaid meter, can pay more than 900 euros as a flat fee as they also have to pay extra for the meter.
PrePayPower has some of the highest standing fees.
We do not regulate standing fees. It’s the network fee. Sometimes providers will absorb them and sometimes pass them on
Standing electricity fees range from €500 to €700 per year, depending on the price plan. Gas 228 euros.
Ireland’s permanent electricity fee is €480 per year for electricity, an increase of €137-€200 since last year.
Bord Gáis Energy charges electricity customers between €280 and €458 per year, depending on the plan.
Flogas’ permanent electricity fee can be up to 600 euros.
A spokesperson for the regulator, Utilities Regulatory Commission, said: “We don’t regulate standing fees. They are network fees. Sometimes providers will absorb them and sometimes pass them along. Standing fees are included as part of the estimated annual billing information and are shown on approved comparison sites.”
Numbers are placed on each provider. PrePayPower said the standing fee increase is not an additional fee and is included in all pricing announcements.
She said the focus should be on the estimated annual bill (EAB). This shows that it has the lowest record unit price and the lowest EAB in the market.
Electric Ireland said the standing charge is a combination of fixed charges associated with providing and maintaining the electricity supply to its customers.
“While the recent price increase, which is due to take effect on October 1, does not affect our customers standing fees, we have made a decision in the past to increase our standing fees so that we can reduce unit price increases which will allow our customers to continue to use Electricity at the lowest possible unit price.
Bord Gáis Energy said the standing fee makes up about 9 to 12 percent of a customer’s bill and includes, among other things, overhead and fixed costs associated with gas and electricity supplies.
Bord Gáis Energy has always aimed to keep its standing charge as low as possible, but it has been impacted by the significant increase in costs over the past two years.
Flogas said its increases were among the lowest on the market of any other supplier and avoided massive increases in unit prices — while also keeping its flat fees flat in its most recent increase.