Electricity profits are ‘obscene’ when customers are living in ‘penury’, TD says

Electricity Supply Board not too far off one billion euro in profit after price hikes.

ESB is rolling in it.

Social Democrat TD Jennifer Whitmore. Gareth Chaney/ Collins Photos© Gareth Chaney

Níall FeiritearSunday World

Monster ESB profits should not be tolerated when the public are struggling, a T.D has said.

The country's largest electricity supplier made a profit of €847m after imposing a succession of huge price hikes on households and business over the past year.

“We should not tolerate a situation whereby a State company is making monster profits, double last year’s figure, while their customers are facing disconnections as a result of being unable to pay their bills,” said TD Jennifer Whitmore.

State owned power utility ESB owns Electric Ireland, the biggest supplier of power to homes and businesses. It has faced fierce criticism after imposing the price hikes on consumers and more recently for cutting rates charged to businesses but not ordinary households.

Social Democrat TD Jennifer Whitmore. Gareth Chaney/ Collins Photos© Gareth Chaney

The Social Democrats Energy Spokesperson attended a charity briefing this week which highlighted the desperate situation a huge number of people find themselves in.

“I attended a St Vincent de Paul briefing this week on energy poverty, where TDs were told the service had received an unprecedented 230,000 requests for help last year,” Ms Whitmore said.

“Hundreds and thousands of families are enduring extreme hardship because of a cost-of-living crisis primarily driven by sky-high energy costs.

“As families around the country make choices about heating their homes or feeding their families, the ESB has announced a record €847 million profit.

“It has now recommended an enhanced dividend to be paid to the state of €327 million. That leaves the ESB with €231 million in profits this year.”

As the energy spokesperson does not think the current situation is fair or appropriate, she suggested what could be done with the massive cash pile.

“That is an obscene amount of profit for a State company when so many of its customers are living in penury.

“The government should ensure that at least 75% of the windfall profits the ESB has amassed are collected via the dividend.

“This money must then be ring-fenced to support the ever-increasing number of people who are living in energy poverty," Ms Whitmore added.

Meanwhile Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Paschal Donohoe has said that the increased profits from ESB will be used to pay for cost of living measures in Budget 2024.

He said the dividend may be used for new cost of living measures, if they are deemed necessary, as part of the budget.

“We don’t want to see any State entity, or indeed the private sector, join a higher level of profitability purely due to the higher pricing that is having such a serious effect on households and businesses,” he said.

Electric Ireland increased prices for households three times last year and twice in 2021. This meant the average cost of electricity has doubled for the typical household to around €2,000 a year.

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