More than 100,000 households who made the switch to Bord Gais for their electricity two years ago are facing a 24% hike in the electricity bills from August - twice the level that was announced by the company last week.
Their two-year discounts, which were pegged to the ESB's standard tariff, have either recently run out or will expire soon. Reaching the end of this promotional period at the same time that Bord Gais raises its prices exposes these customers to a double price shock.
Another 325,000 Bord Gais customers will suffer a 24% hike in their bills, as their introductory deals expire over the coming year.
"Discounts given by Bord Gais Energy, and indeed other suppliers, were introductory discounts for a specific period of time," the company said. "Customers signing up when we launched the Big Swicth in February 2009 have benefited from more than €200 off their electricity bills, based on average consumption."
Customers in the secound year of BOrd Gais's introductory offer pay 14.4c per unit of electricity including VAT - a 10% discount on ESB's standard tariff of 16c. Whe nthe offer runs out they will move to Bord Gais's new standard tariff of 17.92c a unit - a jump of 24%.
Energy experts advise them to switch suppliers immediately. Simon Moynihan of Bonkers.ie, a price comparison site, said: "Switching is easy, it only takes a few days and most deals do not require annual contracts or charge penalties for leaving early. If your new supplier increases prices, there's nothing to stop you from moving again."
Bord Gais blames the increases on the rising wholesale prices. Jason Scagell, the managing director of retail and trading, said: "The prices paid by Irish consumers are intrinsically linked to international wholesale prices and, with the markets signalling the prospect of higher winter prices, residential price increases have unfortunately become unavoidable."