ESB super profits should be used to reduce numbers of disconnections – Ó Clochartaigh
Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh has called on the ESB to use the substantial profits reported yesterday, to alleviate the burden on ordinary customers, rather than funding excessive wages to top ESB employees.
Speaking in the Seanad today, the Galway West Senator highlighted that both electricity and gas disconnections were both at very high levels.
It has been reported today that ESB’s Profit before taxation rose to €327.6 million in 2012, up from €78.8 million, excluding an exceptional charge of €161.2 million due to a voluntary severance programme that saw 528 employees leaving the group in the year.
“I wish to highlight the figures published by the Commission for Energy Regulation show that 12,854 households had their electricity supply cut off in the first three quarters of 2012, in addition to the almost 17,800 customers disconnected during 2011. Some 2,479 domestic customers had their gas supply cut off between July and September last year.
“Over the past two years, gas and electricity prices have risen by an average of 30%, with further increases likely later this year. People who are struggling on a daily basis due to lack of work or reductions in pay and increased taxes on the less well off, are being cut off through no fault of their own.
“I raise this because we see today reports of the super-profits being made by the ESB at this moment in time. The ESB saw revenue rise to €3.26 billion in 2012, up from €2.91 billion the previous year.
“While the increase in the ESB’s profitability is welcome, it should be noted that this is against a background of increased prices in terms of energy so we must assess the real cost of the increase to ordinary citizens. I also note that the Fine Gael Leader in the Seanad, Maurice Cummins, in response said that ‘the energy regulator needs to examine his conscience in allowing increases to ESB costs’, which goes some way to sharing my concerns.
“Disconnections are widespread, and while Electric Ireland claim not to be as bad as other suppliers there are still considerable levels of disconnections, because people simply cannot afford to pay their bills. At the same time, we see the government allowing the top brass in the ESB to take home enormous six figure salaries.
“The last budget saw reductions in electricity and fuel allowance, and I believe that many families are currently in danger of energy poverty due to the high prices.
“These profits should be used to ensure that prices fall, disconnections are minimised and cuts in allowances are reversed, rather than going towards the large salaries of those in the higher echelons in the ESB.”