Government complicit in ESB price rip-off amid excessive profits, says The Rural Independent Group – – Our News, Your Views

Government complicit in ESB price rip-off amid excessive profits, says The Rural Independent Group

The Government and the ESB have been accused, by the Rural Independent Group, of jointly profiteering on the back of skyrocketing Irish electricity prices and have called on the Taoiseach to take immediate action by capping ESB profits.

Speaking from his Tipperary constituency today (Wednesday 16th March), the Leader of the Rural Independent Group, Deputy Mattie Mc Grath, stated:

“Household electricity costs rose about 70 per cent during 2021 and are now predicted to rise even further this year, with Bord Gais announcing this week further hikes of 27 per cent. Already, estimates calculate that these hikes have added between €1,000 to €1,300 to the average home’s yearly electric bills.”

“Despite record price increases, the government owned ESB has announced operating profits of €679 million for 2021, providing for net profits of €191 million.”

“The Government owns 95 percent of the ESB and can, therefore, exert a significant influence over the company’s direction. But rather than use this influence to combat soaring home electric prices, the government remains silent and benefits from increased profits, through an expanded dividend payment of €126 million last year, a rise of €81 million on 2020.”

“In fact, the government has earned €1.2 billion in ESB dividends in the past decade alone.”

“As the ESB controls the national electricity network and directly supplies four in every ten households through its subsidiary Electric Ireland, it is deeply disingenuous for the government to partake in such profit-gouging.”

“We have seen all Irish electricity suppliers, including Electric Ireland, blame rising natural gas prices globally for record increases. However, the facts do not fully support this contention. For instance, last October, figures emerged showing that ESB power plants earned profits of between €132,000 and €138,000 an hour at different times between July and September, where generators sell electricity to companies that supply homes and businesses, including Electric Ireland.”

“Market data shows that ESB plants at Aghada in Cork, Coolkeeragh in Derry, Dublin Bay and Poolbeg had generating costs of between €90 MWh and €150 MWh, but were then charging prices from €375 MWh to €490 MWh.”

“In the midst of an energy price crisis, such price extortion tactics are reprehensible, especially when you consider that some ESB plants were earning profits of between €2.3 million and €4 million per day in 2021.”

“One thing is for certain, rising natural gas prices, mainly blamed for increased electricity charges, did not justify the ESB’s wholesale price offers. Therefore, it is absolutely incredible that the government has decided to turn the other cheek.”

“While some government TDs have been raising this issue, most have purposefully shielded the government from blame, instead calling on regulators to act. We believe that while the Commission for the Regulation of Utilities (CRU) has a role here, that any such process would be protracted and may yield little to no useful outcome for ordinary households.”

“Instead, what is needed here is swift action by the government to insist that the ESB cease ripping off consumers. A price cap on profits is needed. The government can no longer bury its head in the sand. The outcome would result in immediate reductions for all electricity customers in Ireland, and that’s why we have called for the direct intervention of the Taoiseach,” concluded Deputy Mc Grath.

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