Bill shock for pensioner
Woman received electricity bill for €3,262, Naughten tells Dáil
A pensioner living on her own was shocked to receive an electricity bill which has gone from €123 to €3,385 because her supplier has failed to read her meter for the past 24 months. Local TD Denis Naughten informed the Dáil of the bizarre episode last week.
“To add to her shock, she is being charged all of these arrears at the current electricity rate – compounding the financial hardship she is now facing – while the electricity supplier gains an excessive profit due to the policy of charging this inflated unit rate,” explained Independent TD Naughten.
“And it seems that the regulator, the Commission for the Regulation of Utilities, is not too bothered about this exploitation of vulnerable electricity customers as the only obligation they place on electricity suppliers is that they must ‘attempt’ to take a meter reading four times per year.
“Once they do that by throwing a banal card in the letter box that requires the customer to source their MPRN number, the onus is then on the customer, many of them vulnerable customers in old energy inefficient homes, to submit a reading or face astronomical bills”.
Deputy Naughten said that this practice was “just not good enough” and accused the regulator of “washing their hands of responsibility”.
“Neither the practice of allowing estimated bills to continually roll over nor profiteering from backdating all arrears at the current unit rate should be tolerated,” he said, highlighting the ‘back billing’ approach of the UK which rules an electricity supplier cannot send a bill for energy used more than 12 months previously.
He had asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications Eamon Ryan what plans there are to do the same here in Ireland.
“Disappointingly, Minister Ryan gave no commitment to take such an approach, just to allow customers more time to pay the inflated bill,” concluded Denis Naughten.