The free electricity and free natural gas allowance schemes operated by my Department are available only to recipients of social welfare type pensions who are living alone or only with certain exempted persons. In the case of the free electricity allowance scheme, the allowance covers the cost of the standing charge for a meter and 1,500 units of electricity per annum. The number of units should cover the needs of an elderly person living alone. Where the allocation of free units in any one billing period is not fully utilised, the surplus can be carried forward to the next billing period. A similar arrangement in regard to gas therms operates in the case of persons availing of the free natural gas allowance scheme.
Eligible persons can choose whichever of the two schemes best suits their own particular circumstances. There would be no monetary gain to the person in splitting the allowance between electricity and gas but practical, administrative and accounting difficulties would arise for the two utilities concerned.