Written Answers. - ESB Charges.

Dan Wallace

Question:

260 Mr. D. Wallace asked the Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications the current unit price charged by the ESB; if he will specify all associated charges; if he will give comparative information in respect of other EU countries; and the precise standard procedure followed prior to electricity being withdrawn from a domestic customer who is in arrears with his-her payment. [1955/96]

The current unit price charged by ESB to domestic customers is 6.8 pence. The current two-monthly standing charges are as follows:

Urban

£3.19

Rural (up to 1,000 sq. ft.)

£5.48

(over 1,000 sq. ft.)

£6.29

All the above charges are subject to VAT at the rate of 12½ per cent.
Electricity prices in Ireland compare favourably with charges in European Union countries. Domestic electricity prices are currently 24 per cent below the European average and Ireland has lower prices than ten of the member states including the UK for this sector. Prices for householders in Northern Ireland were 25 per cent higher than in the Republic last year.
The following table sets out the average price inclusive of VAT in pence per kWh (unit) for two domestic customers using 1,700 kWh and 3,500 kWh per annum in each EU member state at 1 July 1995.

EU Member State

1,700 kWh (Irish pence)

3,500 kWh (Irish pence)

Belgium

16.5

14.49

Germany

16.34

14.78

Denmark

14.04

12.49

Luxembourg

12.85

11.11

France

12.44

12.39

Spain

11.95

11.88

Austria

11.91

11.91

Portugal

11.21

11.44

UK

10.66

9.26

Netherlands

9.93

9.07

Ireland

9.31

8.45

Sweden

7.9

6.37

Finland

7.56

6.57

Greece

6.97

7.85

Italy

5.54

15.26

ESB has operated a help policy for many years which is designed to facilitate domestic customers in financial difficulties to come to grips with paying their electricity bill.
The first reminder letter to the customer draws his or her intention to this policy and invites him or her to contact ESB as soon as possible should they wish to make an arrangement to clear their bill in instalments. Where such an arrangement is maintained by the customer, no further action is needed. This is what happens in the vast majority of cases.
In some instances where a customer does not respond to a first or subsequent reminder letter, then a collector will call to his or her premises. Withdrawal of supply to customers in financial difficulties is always the last resort and only occurs when every possible step has been taken to make an arrangement.