Within minutes of each other, two of Ireland’s largest energy suppliers announced price cuts. Could these be the first shots in a winter price war?
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Typically energy suppliers cut prices in the spring, and winter price cuts are fairly unusual. That changed today with SSE Airtricity and Electric Ireland both announcing price reductions that will take effect in January.
Electric Ireland will cut prices for all its gas customers. The price cut, which will take effect from 1 January 2016, will see gas unit rates come down by 2.5% and save customers just over €20 per year on their gas bills.
SSE Airtricity will cut prices for all its electricity customers. This price cut, which will take effect from 11 January, will see standing charges and unit rates come down by 2% and will save customers €23 per year on their electricity bills.
Electric Ireland gas price cut
Currently Electric Ireland’s standard gas customers are paying €958 per year. This price reduction will mean that average bills should fall to €938.
Electric Ireland’s gas price cut will mean that their standard gas unit rate will come down from 5.164 cent to 5.030 cent per unit ex-VAT.
Electric Ireland has more than 130,000 natural gas customers who should benefit from today’s price reduction.
This is the second time Electric Ireland has announced a gas price cut this year. The company also cut gas unit prices by 2.5% in April. That price cut saved customers around €21. Electric Ireland cut electricity prices this month too, saving customers €24.
Electric Ireland’s Executive Director Jim Dollard said that the company was “particularly happy to be able to reduce gas prices ahead of January as it’s the month our customers use the most gas in their homes.”
SSE Airtricity electricity price cut
SSE Airtricity customers on standard rates pay €1,242 per year for electricity. The 2% reduction in standing charges and unit rates will bring this down to €1,218 and save customers €24 per year.
The SSE Airtricity price cut will see their standard electricity unit rate come down from 16.81 cent to 16.47 cent. In addition, SSE Airtricity’s standing charge will fall from €143.19 to €140.34 per year for urban customers.
This is the second time SSE Airtricity has cut prices this year. In April, the company cut electricity prices, saving customers €23, and cut gas prices saving customers €35.
Today’s price cut announcement will benefit SSE Airtricity’s 340,000 household electricity customers.
“I’m pleased that for the second time in 12 months, we’re delivering on our promise that if we can lower our electricity prices, we will,” said SSE Airtricity’s Managing Director Stephen Wheeler today.
Discount electricity and gas deals
Bonkers.ie Managing Director David Kerr welcomed today’s announcement saying: “As we are now well into winter, Electric Ireland’s gas price reduction and SSE Airtricity’s electricity price cut are sure to be well received by their customers. We’ve seen a lot of price increases over the last few years, so it’s good to see companies like SSE Airtricity and Electric Ireland helping to bring prices back down.”
“What we’ve also seen in recent months are some of the biggest gas and electricity discounts ever offered by suppliers, and I would encourage customers to take advantage of those too. The best gas and electricity deals out there right now can save an average household another €340 over the next 12 months.”
SSE Airtricity and Electric Ireland cashback
In addition to today’s price cut announcements, Electric Ireland has introduced a €65 cashback deal for new and returning customers. New Electric Ireland customers will see €65 credit added to their first or second bills.
SSE Airtricity is offering €50 cashback to new electricity customers signing up to its 20% discount deal, and the company is offering a free boiler service to new dual fuel customers.
Wholesale gas prices
Wholesale gas prices, which are often quoted as a reason for residential price changes, were 13% lower in October 2015 than they were in October 2014 according to a recent market report by Vayu Energy. Typically, it can take more than six months for wholesale prices to pass through to consumers, but industry experts believe that supplier savings are being passed on to consumers now in the form of big discounts, special offers, and cashback deals for new customers.