Posted: Tuesday February 08 2011, Blog Tags:
UP to 13,000 households had their electricity disconnected last year -- a 30pc increase on 2009.
Energy companies are now planning to introduce pay-as-you-go meters in thousands of homes to help consumers avoid disconnections.
Figures released at a fuel poverty conference in Dublin yesterday revealed that 13,000 supplies in the Republic were disconnected last year, compared with fewer than 10,000 in 2009.
Many of these cash-strapped householders would have re-connected, but only after paying a hefty reconnection charge of €70 and working out agreements to pay off arrears.
Almost 200,000 electricity and gas customers entered planning agreements to meet their bills.
Representatives of a companies' conference organised by Energy Action in Dublin Castle called for the introduction of pay-as-you-go meters similar to those used by NIE Energy in the North, which has not disconnected a single customer in over 10 years.
Bord Gais estimated it needed 20,000 pay-as-you-go gas meters immediately.
Debt hopping had become a serious problem with customers switching from one supplier to another until debts of up to €4,000 were built up making it impossible for the companies, or bodies such as MABS and the Society of St Vincent de Paul, to resolve the problem.
The majority of customers in difficulty were middle class people who had never encountered fuel poverty and did not know how to deal with the problem.
Treacy Hogan, Irish Independent