The electricity allowance is still given to customers as a monthly monetary credit on a customer’s electricity bill where they have a domestic account with Electric Ireland. This dates back to a time when its predecessor (ESB) was the only electricity supplier available.
My Department has been approached by some of the other electricity providers regarding the possibility of crediting the electricity allowance onto their customer’s bills, similar to Electric Ireland arrangement. However, providing the necessary secure ICT systems would prove costly both for each of the suppliers and the Department. Maintaining computerised links and accounts with the many companies now operating in the energy market would also place a substantial administrative burden on the Department.
Customers who want to purchase their electricity needs from other providers are given a cash payment. This allows them to easily switch to a company which best meets their individual electricity needs, giving them value for money. They can also draw down any remaining credit balance when switching provider. There are currently in excess of 123,000 customers on these cash payment arrangements.
I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.