Customers of outgoing energy companies asked to pay up to 40% more with alternative suppliers

Customers of outgoing energy companies asked to pay up to 40% more with alternative suppliers

More than 30,000 customers of Iberdrola, the company that left the Irish energy market last month, were automatically transferred to alternative suppliers but will pay as much as 40 percent more for their gas and electricity as a result of the switch if they do not proactively contact alternative companies.

When the Spanish company left the market, its domestic electricity customers were moved to Electric Ireland, the Supplier of Last Resort (SoLR) for electricity, while its gas customers were moved to Bord Gáis Energy, which plays a similar role for gas customers.

The purpose of a SoLR is to ensure a guaranteed energy supply to users when a company announces a sudden closure or deviation from the market.

Under the rules overseen by the Commission for the Regulation of Utilities (CRU), affected customers who automatically switch to Electric Ireland and Bord Gáis Energy pay the standard unit price, which is significantly higher than discounted prices offered by suppliers to new and switching customers.

According to the rules, Iberdrola customers who are now with either Electric Ireland or BGE will not be able to change supplier until September next year at the earliest.

Emma Pearson registered with Iberdrola “on the basis of [32.5 per cent] discounts are offered on electricity and gas, ”she said. She told The Irish Times that the discounted unit price for gas including VAT was 3.98 cents when she signed up, while the standard price for gas with Bord Gáis Energy is currently 9.83 cents.

She said that correspondence she received from Bord Gáis Energy did not mention the possibility of discounted plans that may be available, and while Electric Ireland made references to discounts, “they leave the responsibility to the customer to investigate and sign up for these discounts”.

She said that suppliers should be obliged to “give a comparable discount to consumers when they have moved against their will in the middle of a contract to another supplier”.

Ben Vinas had a similar experience when he moved and now has higher prices for both gas and electricity, despite the fact that he actively switched to Iberdrola to get discounts. “I think that in the midst of an energy and economic crisis, this is completely unacceptable. I feel that my rights to choose my supplier are being trampled on, and to let someone micromaneuver the operation of my house is disgusting. The difference in price during the 90 days will to amount to hundreds of euros. “

A CRU spokesman defended the process, saying that its “priority in the circumstances was to ensure that Iberdrola’s customers continue to have gas and electricity supplies, and that an orderly transfer of accounts can take place. The alternative would mean a disorderly exit where customers could be left without supplier.”

He said that during the SoLR process, all customers are transferred to outgoing suppliers at the standard rate for that gas or electricity supplier. “But once the transfer process is complete, customers can renegotiate standard tariffs with Electric Ireland or Bord Gáis Energy, both of which offer competitive prices.”

He added that “the key message for all customers is to contact Electric Ireland and / or BGE when they have been transferred and have received communication from the new suppliers – if customers do not want to take advantage of the renegotiated SoLR price, they can change supplier [from] 1 September.”

A spokesman for BGE said that the Iberdrola gas customers they had taken could contact it to get discounts of up to 38 percent on gas, while a spokesman for Electric Ireland said that significant discounts were also available for its former Iberdrola customers so as long as they proactively contacted the company.

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