Prohibition on Gas and Electricity Disconnections Bill will protect customers - Darren O’Rourke TD
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Climate Action, Communications and Transport, Darren O’Rourke TD, says he hopes the government will support a Sinn Féin bill which aims to curtail electricity and gas disconnections for households struggling with energy bills.
The Electricity Regulation (Amendment) (Prohibition of Winter Disconnections) Bill 2021 will be debated in the Dáil at Second Stage on Thursday evening and is co-sponsored by Deputies O’Rourke, Claire Kerrane and Réada Cronin.
Teachta O’Rourke said:
“Our bill will give the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the power to direct the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) to introduce a ban on gas and electricity disconnections during the fuel allowance season and at other times during the year that the Minister deems appropriate, for example during a global pandemic or at times of energy crisis.
“No household should face the threat of having their light or heat cut off during the winter months and given the massive energy price hikes people are now facing, we believe this is an important tool the Minister should have at his disposal throughout the year.
“The CRU has a voluntary code in place to help avoid disconnections but this is not enough. In 2019, 5,008 electricity and 2,424 gas disconnections took place.
“Disconnections cause huge difficulties for families and even having the threat hanging over people is extremely stressful.
“People are really struggling to meet their energy bills now, and this will worsen during the coming winter. The government needs to prepare now.
“The government is not doing enough to combat energy poverty and their latest Strategy to Combat Energy Poverty lapsed three years ago.
“Light and heat are not a luxury, and people facing financial difficulty meeting their energy bills need support and assistance from the government, not the threat of being left in the cold and dark.
“Other European countries such as the Netherlands, Finland and Belgium have similar winter disconnection bans, and we believe this bill will provide the Minister with additional and necessary powers to protect households.”