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Up to 15,000 ESB retirees and staff get huge home energy discounts

Perk is worth around €670 a year to beneficiaries

ESB Group reported bumper operating profits of almost €700m for last year. Photo: Stock image/Depositphotos

Charlie Weston and Anne-Marie Walsh

Thousands of ESB workers are getting cheaper electricity for life as soaring energy bills push up living costs.

The Irish Independent revealed last week that the workforce of 7,800 enjoy a sizeable discount.

It has now emerged that this extends beyond retirement and almost the same number of people – around 7,000 former staff members – also receive similar benefits.

Workers get a 55pc discount on the first 1,000 units of the full-price rate of electricity on their bill every two months, helping insulate them from energy inflation. There are no staff discounts on the standing charge or PSO levy.

“We can confirm that the number of ESB retirees in receipt of a staff electricity discount is approximately 7,000,” a spokesperson said.

“ESB staff who voluntarily retire after the age of 60, or mandatory retirements up to age 66, are entitled to the staff electricity discount.”

He said once retired, the full discount only applies until they reach 66. “Thereafter, it may reduce to about 50pc pending the application of household benefits via the Department of Social Protection”.

The spokesperson said chief executive Paddy Hayes’s remuneration package does not include a staff electricity discount. Mr Hayes’s basic yearly pay is €318,000 and he has access to a company car.

The ESB was also asked if senior management at Electric Ireland get the discount.

A spokesperson said remuneration details in relation to other staff and management of ESB is confidential.

He said the staff electricity discount was set up by the ESB in the mid-1980s as a benefit for permanent employees.

It is worth an estimated €670 discount a year on their electricity bills – nearly half the average annual bill.

The ESB’s energy supply subsidiary has announced double-digit price hikes.

An ESB spokesperson said after the recent electricity price increases that Electric Ireland “will continue to offer the lowest standard tariff in the market”.

Meanwhile, Bord Gáis was asked whether staff qualify for a similar discount on their energy costs. However, the company would only say: “Bord Gáis Energy employs just over 340 people and, like all reputable companies, offers competitive rewards packages designed to attract and retain talented people.

“The detail of our employee rewards packages is a private matter between the company and its employees.”

Bord Gáis Energy is no longer state-owned. It has been part of Centrica Group since 2014.

Bord na Móna staff do not get discounts, and an Eirgrid spokesperson said there was no reduction on bills available to its workers.

ESB’s Electric Ireland subsidiary is pushing up unit electricity prices by 23pc from this month. The standing charges are going up by 36pc.

It is the third electricity price hike in 18 months.

Gas unit prices are going up by 25pc, with the standing charge going up by the same percentage.

The combined increases mean annual electricity costs will have surged by €500 for the average household over the past 18 months.

ESB Group reported bumper operating profits of almost €700m for last year.

The company said the €679m profit figure was before tax, exceptionals and interest. After-tax profits were €191m, and it is paying the Exchequer a €126m dividend.

SSE Airtricity has also announced increases during recent days. Its electricity and gas prices are going up from the start of next month.

Electricity is going up by 24pc in a move that will add an extra €338 to the typical annual household bill.

Gas is rising by 32.3pc, which will add €333 to the typical annual bill.

The move will impact around 250,000 electricity customers and 85,000 gas customers.

Panda Power, which announced five price rises last year, is pushing up electricity prices by 14.7pc in May, and gas by 14.9pc.

This will add €290 a year to the average electricity bill and €207 to the average gas bill.

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