Energy costs to rise sharply
Prices for gas in the south and coal in the north both heading northHeating bills are set to soar later this year after Bord Gáis confirmed it was seeking to increase prices by almost a fifth.
Next month the company will ask the Commission for Energy Regulation to allow an increase in consumer prices of up to nineteen
Unlike oil which has risen sharply, consumer gas prices have been relatively static until now. Interestingly, Bord Gáis posted a pre-tax profit growth of 29 per cent yesterday. Gas sales increased by eight per cent to €763 million, while electricity sales were up eighteen per cent to €239 million in 2007. Group turnover rose ten percent to €1,215 million from €1,108 million in 2006. Further price hikes are unlikely to harm profits and few seem to be asking if Bord Gáis is justified in hiking prices when it is making money hand over fist. The company has mooted a policy of austerity for customers, suggesting they lower their thermostats by one degree in order to 'help the environment'.
Labour party spokeswoman for energy, Liz McManus warned of the spectre of 'fuel poverty', saying there were 60,000 to 100,000 families in the state living in "consistent fuel poverty."
Social development minister Margaret Ritchie said on Wednesday that many households would be facing a "bleak, cold winter". "With these huge increases in gas, oil, coal and electricity many households will be facing a bleak, cold winter and we must do more in the short term," Mrs Ritchie said.The report states that the Coal Advisory Service blamed the increase on world energy markets and transport costs. A spokesman said smokeless fuels would not rise to the same degree, but would increase by about fifteen per cent.