Households can expect a new electricity credit to offset their energy bills before Christmas, Environment Minister Eamon Ryan has confirmed.
Mr Ryan made the remarks as Cabinet today signs off on plans to limit energy use in the public sector with temperatures to be set at 19C as appropriate to each public building’s use.
The public sector will be expected to lead by example on energy efficiency in the coming months, Mr Ryan said, with other proposals including reducing heating of low-occupancy spaces, optimising timers and thermostats, and reducing use in peak times.
Mr Ryan said it was the first of a series of memos and that the Government would consider and said it would several stages to manage through this winter into next year.
He said EU energy ministers would look at market reform in a bid to reduce bills for householders at a meeting this Friday.
Mr Ryan said the Government was supportive of EU proposals to decouple the cost of wholesale electricity from the market price of gas. "In effect what I am talking about there in the electricity market would be the same effect as a windfall tax, it would deliver the same result," he said.
He said there was a commitment to roll out supports in the budget, including support for businesses at risk as a result of skyrocketing bills. The package of measures will include a new electricity credit - on top of the €200 cut from bills earlier this year - that would take effect before Christmas, Mr Ryan confirmed.
"Yes, we held back, a lot of people were arguing we should have had a mini budget in the summer and we said at the time no, because the time this is going to hit is in the late autumn, early next year.
“So I think it was absolutely right for us to hold our fire and wait to see what the real situation was in the autumn and that’s when we need to provide supports,” he said.
He said that there would also be an ongoing campaign "to reduce our use to save us money, to manage this wartime situation which is what we're in in energy, energy is being used as a weapon of war”
Speaking on his way into the Cabinet meeting, Public Expenditure Minister Michael McGrath said that budget decisions around the cost of living would take account of the decision of EU energy ministers later this week.
He said the government would be looking to administer financial supports to people as quickly as possible ahead of a “difficult autumn and winter period” and that a separate package of one-off measures was at “a very advanced stage”.
He said there was no absolute guarantee that blackouts could be avoided this winter.