Ireland's National Consumer Agency has called on the country's energy regulator to halt Bord Gais' proposed price increase and postpone its decision on the Electricity Supply Board's planned increase.

The National Consumer Agency (NCA) wants Ireland’s energy regulator, CER, to rescind its decision permitting Bord Gais to impose a 34% price increase and withdraw the consultation paper on the Electricity Supply Board’s (ESB) proposed 20% price increase.
The agency has also requested that both Bord Gais and the ESB make new proposals to the CER in the light of developments in international energy markets.

In relation to the proposed electricity price increases, the main drivers seem to be the recovery of higher than expected fuel costs in 2005 and 2006 and an expectation that oil/gas prices would continue at a high level. CER’s decision in relation to a 34% increase in gas is also predicated on continuing high wholesale prices of fuel, explained Ann Fitzgerald, executive chair of the NCA and director of consumer affairs.

It is now generally accepted, however, that oil prices have peaked in July 2006 and have subsequently dropped by approximately 20%. Bearing this context in mind the proposed increases should be shelved without delay.