By John Denman
The fall in wholesale electricity is being used by new Minister Denis Naughten to justify a whopping 30% increase in the Public Service Obligation levy for electricity.
The PSO Levy funds the achievement of national electricity policy objectives for renewable energy fuels and security supply.
In spite of recent price reductions Ireland continues to have one of the most expensive lectricity cost regimes in Europe.
However, this has not deterred the Commission for Energy Regulation from proposing a major increase in the PSO levy, which has been a key factor in driving the hugely unpopular and controversial wind-farm industry.
The proposed price leap of €1.62 a month to €7 is expected to increase the fund in 2016-2017 for new renewable to €441m.
Responding to a Dáil question by social Democrat co-leader Catherine Murphy, Mr Naughten said:
“The biggest drivers for the proposed levy increase are the lower predicted wholesale market electricity price and increased deployment of renewables.'
Ms Murphy said: ‘It’s yet another charge for consumers who are already coping with one of the dearest cost regimes in Europe.'
However, Mr Naughten said that while he was conscious of the impact of energy costs on industry and households alike, ‘the falling wholesale price of electricity is being passed on to the consumers and more than outweighs the proposed levy increase in this period'.
Mr Naughten also advised consumers to avail of discounts either by contacting their suppliers
directly or using the price comparison websites accredited by the Commission for Energy Regulation, such as Bonkers.ie, to switch to discounted tariffs'.
'A customer consuming the average amount of electricity could save over €150 by switching suppliers, the minister said.
However, Ms Murphy noted that this did not deal with the far broader scenario where the PSO was, she said, “failing to fulfil its designated role to find clean energy that would reduce the cost of electricity, and instead it has just turned into a further charge or hard-pressed people'.
‘A further charge for hard-pressed people'