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Every household in Ireland to get refund from ESB after billing mistake

The ESB accidentally overcharged Irish households for over a decade.

ESB overcharged to subsidise big businesses’ electricity bills. Stock image: Frank McGrath

Maeve McTaggartSunday World

The ESB must pay every household in Ireland around €50 after accidentally overcharging on bills for over a decade.

Large commercial customers of the ESB have their electricity use subsided by the taxpayer, though it was revealed this week that Irish households have been overcharged.

Through “an accounting error,” the ESB misapplied a support measure for 1,500 of the largest power consumers in Ireland, miscalculating the bill due from taxpayers as a result.

"This is a very, very strange one - not least because of the nonchalance with which it's been kind of dropped on to us," said consumer expert Sinead Ryan on Newstalk Breakfast.

An Oireachtas Committee heard about the ESB billing mistake on Tuesday.

Sinead believes the refund will amount to around €50 per household that will automatically be added back into people’s accounts.

"ESB Networks is responsible for the rollout of huge big commercial customers, and also things like renewables and all that.

"The taxpayer - we - subsidise it, it's fully owned by the State.

"Since 2010, it has been collecting money off retail/domestic customers to subsidise big businesses that have huge networks and require a great deal of electricity,” she said.

"Due to an accounting error, it has over-collected what it was allowed to.

"It was collecting a percentage, rather than a fixed amount, off every single household for the last 10 years.

"It has to refund it, and it reckons it'll be about €50 per household."

The refund “should be automatic,” she added “because it was automatically taken in the first place.”

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