Dáil debates

Thursday, 29 September 2022

Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions


12:10 pm

Photo of Mick BarryMick Barry (Cork North Central, Solidarity) | Oireachtas source

A moratorium on electricity and gas disconnections is in place for this winter. For most customers, the moratorium will be place from the beginning of December to the end of February. For vulnerable customers, the moratorium will apply from October to March. While this moratorium is very welcome, does it apply to all electricity and gas customers? Approximately 10% of electricity users now use the pay-as-you-go system. That would approximate to approximately 200,000 homes. For low-income households, the percentage will be higher; I suspect much higher. One constituent I spoke to last night estimated that every second house in her estate uses the pay-as-you-go system. For the purposes of this contribution, I am going to call this constituent Noreen. It is not her real name.

Noreen lives on the north side of Cork city with her husband and three kids. She is spending €100 a week on electricity, gas and heating her home. She spends €20 a week on blocks and briquettes for the stove. She uses pay-as-you-go for her electricity, which costs €50 per week to top up. She uses pay-as-you-go for her gas, which costs €30 a week to top up. Noreen goes to Centra once a week to buy those top-ups. When she is down to the last €2 on her credit, a beep goes off in the house. When she is down to zero, the beep goes off again. She is then allowed €10 emergency credit. If this runs out before she tops up, she is disconnected. What will happen this winter if Noreen’s emergency credit runs out and she cannot afford to top up? Will the emergency credit be extended and, if so, will it be extended without limits? Will she and others in the same situation be cut off? I would appreciate a reply to that. There are many people asking this question who would like to hear the official position on it.


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