Bord Gáis, Ireland's largest supplier of natural gas, is looking for a further increase of 4.2% on their gas bills from next year on.
The proposed increase is in the firm's submission document published today by the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER).
With the average domestic gas heating bill standing currently at € 910 per annum, the 4.2% increase would add another € 38 a year to the costs of home heating.
For small businesses Bord Gáis proposes a price increase of 2.8%.
The company was initially expected to ask for a rise of between 5% and 8%. However, while gas prices are still 50% higher than last year, they have fallen from recent record highs and Bord Gáis has taken the fall into account.
The company has said it will "continue to monitor gas prices in the coming weeks" and has stated that any continuing falls will be reflected in CER's final decision due out on December 1st.
These are all nice words from Bord Gáis, but the fact remains that our energy prices - already among the highest in the world - will rise even further. Every home heated with natural gas, which is by far more environmentally friendly than any other form of heating, will have to bear the brunt of the ever higher prices. In the current situation of economic recession and financial crisis this will be expecially hard for Irish families.
If the CER had even the slightest concerns for consumers, they would block this price rise, which comes on top of already two increases in gas prices this year. But the so-called 'Regulator' never does anything else but rubber-stamp more and more price hikes, for gas as well as electricity.
And both utilities are not something one can easily do without, which means that the consumers are trapped between an ever more greedy industry and a toothless 'Regulator'.
Would Bord Gáis be run and managed more efficiently, a lot of the money they want to raise now through these further price increases could be saved through ralitionalisation and better internal structuring. But that would be too much to expect from the formerly state-owned - and now partly privatised - Irish energy industry. They just muddle on as always, inefficient, arrogant and greedy, and take us - their customers - for granted.
Maybe it is time to have a mass demonstration of gas customers outside the Bord Gáis head office in Dublin, like we had several demonstrations of outraged citizens with other concerns recently outside the seat of our parliament at Leinster House.
The Emerald Islander