Homeowner are being offered savings of €442 as the price war between providers becomes even more aggressive. - Christian McCashin
Experts say the latest offer, from Energia, will is likely to provoke a further reaction from rivals that will bring the cost of gas and electricity down even further.
Simon Moynihan, of the energy price comparison website, bonkers.ie, said prices have been dropping in the past couple of months and he expects them to keep on tumbling.
He explained that gas prices to homeowners fell by 5% but the wholesale cost of the gas was cut a whopping 26% so as the price war picks up there will be plenty of opportunity to make further savings. Electricity customers were offered deals worth up to €235 off their bills when a price war broke at the end of November.
Now the company is offering new customers discounts of between 20%, and 26%, depending on whether they are gas-and-electricity, gas-only or electricity-only customers.
Energia's head of marketing Geoff Codd said: “We’re offering the biggest savings with our new Dual Fuel and electricity-only offers.
"We had a strong response to the €50 cash back offer we introduced in December and that's why we're extending it."
He said that with the new Dual Fuel offer along with the €50 cashback, customers can save up to €442 on their annual energy costs'.
An Energia spokesman said: "Householders can save €310 on their energy bills by switching only their electricity to Energia. “
This is because the new offer offers a 26% discount on electricity standard rates as well as €50 cashback," he said. The offer is until the end of the month and lasts a year when customers are switched to standard rates or move to another deal.
An Energia spokesman said: "It's not for current customers but a large percentage of them would be on similar discounted rates."
Mr Moynihan said: “This could be the start of another price war. We've seen some very strong new customer offers over the past couple of months." He said SSE Airtricity came out with an offer and were followed by Energia and Panda. Now Energia has taken 'a couple of per cent off their best tariff on both gas and electricity and are offering the biggest discount we have ever seen since deregulation'.
He added: "It's the cheapest electricity tariff in the marketplace and the cheapest dual-fuel tariff. And the discount is double what Bord Gáis Energy launched with the Big switch campaign, and 13%-off Electric Ireland rates. It’s the same thing except it's doubled."
Wholesale prices for gas - which fuels most of Ireland's power stations - is down 26% year-on-year and is what domestic gas and half of electricity prices are based on.
‘We’re seeing most energy suppliers have cut prices in the last 12 months, both gas and electricity," he said. “Domestic prices have come down by about 5%, wholesale prices are down 26%.
“If wholesale prices stay low, domestic prices could catch up, but they'll be passed on in the form of competition There's very little kudos to be got from reducing your standard rates, so the best thing to do is try to acquire customers, which they're all to do.
They're all now offering 20%+ discounts on their standard rates.
Rather than throwing a price cut at everybody, they're just offering cheap prices to customers they're trying to sign up. So it's up to the customers to switch.
In fairness to Energia their deals are really good value." the new deal by Energia is only aimed at those households that switch to it and is not on offer to current customers, sparking anger from the Consumers' Association of Ireland. CAI chief Dermott Jewell welcomed the price cuts but was disappointed that it was not on offer to all.
“This is what angers consumers more and more, if you're a loyal customer you get anything but the benefits that are on the table.
‘And that's what's wrong with these deals.
"They should be opened up to one and all and customers should have the ability to break a contract and enjoy the benefits that loyal customers are probably more entitled to than anyone else.
"It's not at all fair," he said. With the electricity and gas offer, prices from standard rate, 18.9eper kw/h for electricity, is cut to 14.5c. And gas drops from 5.87c per kw/h down to 4.69c.
And for electricity only it drops from 18.9C to 13.9e.
Belfast-based energy company Energia has around 120,000 customers, half domestic and half commercial, plus another 800,000 in the North.