“The spin from the Regulator is that we have some of the highest switching rates in Europe but that ignores the fact that over a million Irish customers are not on the best available deal. How can this be considered a successful outcome?”

Social Democrats Spokesperson on Energy and Climate Change, Cllr Cian O’Callaghan, today called on the utilities regulator to do more to educate the public about the savings to be made from switching suppliers.

The call from the Dublin Bay North councillor comes as data published today by the Commission for the Regulation of Utilities confirms that over a million electricity and gas customers are over-paying on their electricity and gas bills.

Cllr O’Callaghan said:

“Of the approximately 2 million electricity customers only about 300,000 switched their supplier in 2017. Of the approximately 650,000 gas customers, only about 125,000 switched their supplier.

“The way energy markets work in Ireland is that people who fail to switch after 12 months revert to a higher “standard tariff”. In some cases this is over 25% higher than the introductory offers customers started out on.

“The spin from the Regulator is that we have some of the highest switching rates in Europe but that ignores the fact that over a million Irish customers are not on the best available deal. How can this be considered a successful outcome?”

Cllr O’Callaghan added:

“The Regulator needs to do a lot more to educate the public about switching and to protect customers who genuinely find it difficult to shop around.

“The fact is that we have a two-tier energy market. On the one hand we have a small minority of people who have the time and wherewithal to switch every year, and then the rest, the vast majority of customers, who find it difficult to understand the different offers available or are too busy to avail of them.

“We know from UK research that non-switchers tend on average to be older, poorer, or have a disability. Why should they pay such a heavy price for something as basic as electricity or gas?

“Finally, the CRU needs to do far more work to alter the public about the dangers of switching just once. We have very low rates of repeat switching. This means that people may be attracted by a large discounted offer, switch to that supplier, but not switch again. In some cases this can work out much more expensive than never having switched at all.”

ENDS
6 July 2018