The energy regulator has placed a temporary ban on all residential gas and electricity disconnections for the upcoming winter months.
Over the past few weeks we've seen al the main energy suppliers announce price reductions, which will no doubt be welcomed by Irish households which are currently faced with the highest energy prices in Europe.
However energy prices this winter will still be DOUBLE normal levels.
On top of this, a recent report by the CRU showed an increasing number of households are in arrears on their energy bills and at risk of disconnection.
In light of the pressure households are under, the energy regulator has announced a temporary ban on disconnections.
The CRU has announced that there will be a ban on all residential gas and electricity disconnections for the upcoming peak winter months.
The ban will be in place from 1st December 2023 until 31st January 2024. During this time, no household can be disconnected from their supply for whatever reason.
Traditionally there has always been a three-week ban on disconnections over the Christmas period but as a result of Covid lockdowns and then the energy crisis it has been extended in recent years.
The moratorium for customers registered as being particularly vulnerable to winter disconnections will be in place from 1st October 2023 until 31st March 2024. And customers who are registered as being critically dependent on electrically-powered assistive devices cannot be disconnected for reasons of non-payment at any time of the year. If you think you fit into either of these groups of customers, and are unsure if your supplier is aware of it, reach out to them as soon as possible.
A shorter moratorium
This year's moratorium is a month shorter than last year's. Though still longer than the usual three-week period as outlined above.
Although the CRU considered providing a longer ban, it said it had to strike a reasonable balance between protecting customers from disconnection during the peak winter period, while at the same time encouraging customers to engage with their supplier at the earliest opportunity to avoid increasing debt levels.
An analysis of recent market data by the CRU has shown that during extended bans on disconnections customers continue to incur debt rather than engage with their supplier to enter a payment plan. This increased level of debt then leads to customers being at a higher risk of disconnection when the moratorium is eventually lifted.
It's important to remember that there is lots of support available if you're struggling with your energy bills which will help you avoid being at risk of disconnection in the first place.
Although disconnections are very rare in Ireland, they do sometimes occur, and the upcoming temporary moratorium should not be used as a reason to not stay on top of your energy bills.
For example, under the CRU's code of conduct, no one is allowed be disconnected if they're actively engaging with their supplier to pay their bills.
Many suppliers have also set up hardship funds to help their most vulnerable customers. And all suppliers have to offer customers in arrears a repayment plan option, which needs to give you a minimum of 24 months to repay your debt.
You may also be entitled to social welfare support.
Moratoria on disconnections are vital in providing support and peace of mind to customers during the winter period. In addition, the supplier-led Energy Engage Code provides further protection for customers who may have built up debt. It is important for customers who find themselves in this position to talk to their supplier at an early stage to find the best solution for them, as customers who engage with their supplier will not be disconnected.
Karen Trant, Director of Customer Policy and Protection
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