Tuesday, 26 April 2022
Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment
246. To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he will consider placing a price cap on standing charges from utility companies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19518/22]
258. To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he will take steps to remove the low usage standing charge for electricity customers who are following advice to reduce their electricity usage and are being penalised for doing same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19673/22]
260. To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if his Department has plans to engage with electricity providers regarding their low usage charge considering his own recommendations on low usage within the context the cost of living crisis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19700/22]
281. To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his views on electricity supply companies penalising households for under use of electricity by using a higher standing charge in which low use occurs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20164/22]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 246, 258, 260, 281 and 321 together. Responsibility for the regulation of the electricity sector is a matter for the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU), which is an independent regulator. The CRU was assigned responsibility for the regulation of the Irish electricity sector following the enactment of the Electricity Regulation Act, 1999. The CRU is an independent statutory body and solely accountable to a committee of the Oireachtas for the performance of its functions. As Minister, I therefore have no function in this matter.
In line with long standing policy on deregulating price setting, CRU ended its regulation of retail prices in the electricity market in 2011, and in the gas market in 2014. Given that prices are no longer regulated, they are set by all suppliers as entirely commercial and operational matters by them. Each such company has its own different approach to pricing decisions over time, in accordance with factors such as their overall company strategic direction and developments in their cost base.
Additionally, the Deputy may wish to note that CRU provide a dedicated email address for Oireachtas members, which enables them to raise day to day questions on regulatory matters directly to CRU at firstname.lastname@example.org for timely direct reply.