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Examiner1

Airtricity fuels price war with 20% discount

SSE Airtricity has fired the latest shots in a price war among domestic energy providers by unveiling a 20% unit rate discount to new and returning customers, which it claims is Ireland’s cheapest home electricity offer - By Joe Leogue

The announcement of the offer comes just a week after news of new deals from Electric Ireland and Energia, and coincides with a conference on fuel poverty held in Croke Park yesterday.

Last week, Electric Ireland revealed its new €50 cashback offer for new customers, with Energia also announcing that it would give €50 back to new ‘dual fuel’ customers, or €20 to those signing up for gas or electricity only.

Simon Moynihan of Bonkers.ie, a price comparison website accredited by the Commission for Energy Regulation, said that the past week had been a good one for consumers.

"In the past week, we have seen the launch of three deals where cashback has been offered to customers, or reduced tariffs," he said. Mr Moynihan said the beginning of October traditionally saw the announcement of electricity and gas price increases, but that energy providers were now competing for new customers.

Bonkers.ie estimates that the SSE Airtricity deal would save €172 per year off standard rates for qualifying average households.

Meanwhile, the Energy Action conference on fuel poverty, heard that providers were encouraging customers struggling with the cost of their gas and electricity bills to switch to pay-as-you-go meters. Representatives from Bord Gáis Energy and Electric Ireland yesterday told the conference that they had installed 89,000 pay-as-you-go meters between them for customers in financial hardship, and that the measure had seen a fall in the number of accounts in arrears.

Electric Ireland estimates its disconnection rate for non-payment of accounts would drop to 30 per 10,000 customers by the end of the year, a significant reduction, according to Jim Dollard, executive director, ESB Business Centre and Electric Ireland.

"Pay-as-you-go meters have played a major role in helping customers avoid falling behind with payments," he said.

Dave Kirwan, chief operating officer of Bord Gáis Energy, said it had installed 50,000 pay-as-you-go gas meters for customers in financial hardship and another 7,000 electricity meters and that pay-as-you-go customers used 11% less energy than those on credit meters.

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