Electric Ireland and Bord Gáis Energy both announced they would be suspending disconnections before the industry-wide moratorium came into play.
In what has been a busy few months in the world of residential energy, with a number of suppliers hiking the cost of their electricity, many consumers will have been left wondering how they're going to pay their bills, especially coming into the colder winter period.
While many suppliers announced price freezes across their residential energy in the past few months, the fear of being disconnected for an unpaid energy bill still remains a lingering thought in many bill payers minds.
And with thousands of people’s jobs set to be affected by the ongoing Level 5 restrictions, this fear is all too real a possibility for many families.
However, a recent announcement from the Commission for the Regulation of Utilities (CRU) will hopefully go a long way in helping to allay any fears some families may have with regard to the supply of their domestic energy.
The CRU has put in place a moratorium on all disconnections of domestic customers as a result of the country recently entering Level 5 restrictions.
The suspension of all disconnections for all customers and across all suppliers began on Saturday 24th October and will last for the duration of the six-week lockdown period, ending on 1st December 2020.
The moratorium is, in effect, a safety net for energy customers who may be unable to pay one or more of their energy bills should they come into financial hardship during this difficult time.
Alongside its announcement, the CRU encouraged all customers to avoid building up debt by continuing to pay bills as normal or, if they face difficulty doing so, to engage with their supplier to enter into payment arrangements.
All suppliers will have a customer service number to call should you need to get in contact. Contact numbers will be available on a most recent bill or on your suppliers' homepage.
Chairperson of the CRU, Aoife MacEvilly said:
While the CRU considers this temporary moratorium to be an important protection for customers at this time, we are equally concerned about the potential for increasing customer debt. This is why we are encouraging all customers to continue to pay their bills as usual, or if they face difficulty doing so, to engage with their suppliers. The CRU acknowledges that suppliers are also taking steps to protect their own customers.
The CRU is also encouraging customers to switch on to their customer rights, including the protections in place for vulnerable customers. The CRU will continue to monitor the situation and will take any further steps that are necessary.
Both Electric Ireland and Bord Gáis were the only suppliers to have formally announced a suspension on disconnections for customers before the CRU’s announcement.
Work during the pandemic
Part of the CRU’s vital work during the pandemic has been closely monitoring the arrears levels of customers (how many people have fallen into debt) and the number of disconnections registered during the pandemic as a result.
Findings from the CRU have been encouraging and even though arrears levels have increased, the number of people disconnected from their energy supply has not risen correspondingly in comparison to previous years.
This is mainly down to the fact that suppliers are working with their customers at this time to avoid disconnections.
The CRU has however taken the decision to implement a six-week moratorium for customers as an extra layer of protection against possible loss of supply in what is an immensely challenging time.
While the announcement from the regulator is a welcome, albeit temporary one, the body has also voiced its concern for customers who may rack up higher debt and so has advised on a number of actions should customers find themselves in trouble.
- Continue paying bills as usual, where possible.
- Engage with your supplier(s) if you are having difficulty paying a bill or managing any debt that you may have.
- Submit regular meter reads to your supplier(s) to ensure you are being billed accurately and do not have to pay a catch-up bill.
Price hikes & freezes
The latest news from the CRU comes after a number of energy suppliers announced price freezes for their customers, which came in response to a string of electricity price increases beginning in September of 2020.
If you're worrying you missed out on any announcments, don't worry, we’ve included this timeline of the latest energy announcements from the suppliers involved below.
- September 1st: Electric Ireland electricity price increase, 3.4%
- September 4th: PrepayPower electricity price increase, 2.9%
- September 8th: Bord Gáis announces price freeze for winter
- October 1st: Flogas gas price decrease, -10% & elec price freeze
- October 1st: BE Energy, Pinergy & Iberdrola increase electricity, 2.9%, 2.7%, 3.4% respectively
- October 13th: Energia announces price freeze
- October 21st: Electric Ireland announces disconnection moratorium
- October 22nd: SSE Airtricity announces price freeze
- October 23rd: Bord Gáis Energy announces disconnection moratorium
- October 27th: CRU announces industry wide residential electricity & gas moratorium
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