April 25, 2023
Government must urgently introduce measures to reduce energy prices – Darren O’Rourke TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on the Environment and Climate Action, Darren O’Rourke TD, has called on the government to urgently take action to reduce the cost of electricity.

Commenting on new research that reveals that the price of electricity in Ireland is the highest in Europe, the Meath East TD said: 

“The results of this major study of the Household Energy Price Index in 33 countries are extremely alarming. Not only are Ireland’s electricity prices the highest in Europe, the unit price is almost double the European average. We are in a similar position when it comes to gas, with residential gas prices being the eighth most expensive of 28 countries surveyed.

“Despite significant falls in wholesale prices for both gas and electricity recently, these reductions have yet to be passed on to ordinary workers and families. Rather, households continue to be crippled by sky-high electricity bills.

“While Ireland has consistently had the highest electricity prices in Europe for years now, the surges over the past year are unprecedented.

“You would think that would catapult any government into action. Instead the opposite is true. Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party seem determined to continue their business as usual approach of prioritising the profits of energy companies over the catastrophic situations more and more people are finding themselves in. 

“The simple fact is that energy poverty has doubled over the past year. This simply cannot continue.

“The implications for the government are clear – they must urgently introduce measures to ease pressure on ordinary workers and families.

“They have so many options at their finger-tips yet have continuously failed to act. Over the past year Sinn Féin has proposed a variety of policies that the government repeatedly rejected that would address these exorbitant household costs.

“First, energy price caps represent an effective tool to redress imbalances in the market and to bring some urgent and necessary relief. Despite them being commonplace across the EU, the government has flat-out refused to adopt this fair and reasonable measure. 

“They are resistant to any measure that prioritises the needs of ordinary workers and families over the preferences of energy companies.

“Unsurprisingly, the government also stood in the way of a windfall tax until the EU moved as a block. And despite announcing plans in November, they dithered for months and months on draft legislation. 

“We are still at the stage of pre-legislative scrutiny and it is clear that their ambitions are wholly inadequate. Instead, Sinn Féin is calling for the introduction of much more progressive measures that go beyond the EU regulation. 

“This is not a novel or unique approach, with many of our European counterparts having introduced taxes to address the eye-watering profits of energy companies.

“Sinn Féin is also calling for the proper and fair regulation of the energy market. More effective power and resources are urgently required by the Commission for the Regulation of Utilities. 

“For example, they have no legislative remit to regulate standing charges, making them totally unregulated.

“Sinn Féin has put forward the Electricity Regulation (Amendment) (Standing Charges) Bill 2023, which would prevent electricity and gas companies using standing charges as a means of increasing their profits, which have increased by over €300 this past year in some cases. We urge the government to support this measure.

“Households all over the country are calling out for help and the government cannot continue to ignore Ireland’s outlandish electricity and gas prices. They have a rake of clear policy options before them. It is time to do the right thing and to take decisive action to address the financial hardship that is crippling so many people.” 

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