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    Wholesale electricity prices are down 40% for the year...

    May 23, 2023 - By Christian McCashin and Aisling Moloney


      WHOLESALE electricity prices have tumbled by 40% since last year, but residential customers' bills are up by more than half, official figures show.

      Last month alone the wholesale price - which energy companies pay before supplying people's homes - dropped by 13.5% and was 42.5% lower than April last year, according to Central Statistics Office figures published yesterday.

      But over the same period the retail electricity price was up more than 51%. The figures have led politicians to call for price reductions to be passed on to consumers. Senator Maria Byrne, Fine Gael's Seanad spokesperson on finance, said: 'Energy companies were quick to increase prices when their own costs increased, but we are not seeing the same urgency in passing on savings to customers as energy prices come down.

      'Prices have been dropping for a while - yet nothing has been done to date by those companies making the profits. As we move into the warmer months, customers are starting to see smaller bills thanks to less usage, but that shouldn't be a smokescreen for energy companies to hide behind with continued overcharging. Wholesale savings must be passed on to customers without delay.'

      Aontú leader and TD Peadar Tòibín said: 'It is deeply unjust. We have people all over the country struggling to pay bills, cutting back on food spending so they can afford to pay their gas or electricity bills, and it is as if the Government and large suppliers are laughing in their faces.'

      However, Daragh Cassidy, of price comparison site, explained that domestic power prices were not dropping as much as wholesale costs because electricity suppliers buy as much as two years in advance, so many were locked into tariffs agreed when prices were higher.

      'While it's welcome that wholesale electricity prices continue to fall, they still remain at very high levels,' Mr Cassidy said.

      In 2020, before the energy crisis sparked by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the wholesale price of electricity in Ireland was around €40 per MWH, but it spiralled to nearly €400 at one stage last year. Last month it dropped to €126, and the average price for the first four months of the year was €".

      However, Mr Cassidy said: 'Wholesale prices are still over 300% above what might be considered "normal" levels. To put things into perspective, household electricity prices have gone up around 100% to 150% since late 2020. Also, energy suppliers buy their energy for delivery at different times throughout the year, and sometimes up to 12 or 24 months in advance through hedging.' n

      THE Government will extend energy supports by two months for businesses, even as the cost of energy comes down.

      The Temporary Business Energy Support Scheme (TBESS) was introduced as part of Budget 2023 to help with energy costs, allowing businesses to claim up to half of the increase on their gas or electricity bills.

      The extension will mean that businesses will be able to claim financial support from the Government for their energy bills from September last year, to the end of July this year.

      It comes as the Government moved earlier this year to widen the eligibility of the scheme after a number of businesses found it restrictive. They also said the scheme was too complicated.

      Speaking in the Enterprise Committee earlier this month Enterprise Minister Simon Coveney, said TBESS was 'a much more attractive scheme than it was before'.

      'We are seeing a continuing increase in the uptake, but I have to say it is still not what I thought it would be in terms of drawdown of money; it is still some 30,000 businesses, or slightly under that figure, that have availed of it so far,' Minister Coveney added.


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