Peak-hour energy prices could be 50% higher under new plan to tackle spiraling crisis

Electricity customers must pay up to 50% more for electricity at peak times as part of plans to limit the impact of the energy crisis.

This move is being considered by the government and energy regulator in response to soaring gas and electricity prices.

Nearly 750,000 homes where smart meters have been installed could be subject to new mandatory tariffs based on the time of use.

Data protection concerns currently require customers to consent to these tariffs, as smart meters record household activity, and only around 10% have made the switch.

Energy Minister Eamon Ryan said he was speaking to the data protection commissioner about scrapping the consent requirement.

“Such is the urgency and such is the benefit, we will consider this to be mandatory and use an opt-out approach rather than a voluntary approach,” he said.

The move would encourage households to use high-energy appliances late in the evening or during the night when cheaper rates apply.

The flip side is that they would be charged more for use at peak times when most activity is concentrated out of habit and convenience. Electricity providers charge smart tariff customers 15-50% more during the 5-7 p.m. peak.

Mr Ryan said gas-fired power stations had to be activated specifically to meet peak hour demand and that with gas prices soaring, demand had to be curtailed.

Daragh Cassidy, of bill comparison website, said any move to get people to switch to time-of-use rates should be accompanied by support on how to use them .

“People would need clear information about charges and how best to use them, otherwise they might end up paying a lot more and not changing their electricity usage habits, which would not benefit anyone. “

The minister was speaking after Electric Ireland announced price hikes of 23-25% from May.

Mr Ryan defended the price hike, despite Electric Ireland’s parent company, state-owned ESB, making profits of €679m last year.

He said the company had hedged against gas price hikes by buying in bulk in advance, but the inventory purchased under that deal had disappeared and they were now buying in a market where the prices had quintupled.

“ESB did not increase its prices because it wanted to. It was a necessity like for all other energy companies,” he said.

A one-time energy discount of €200 for households will be deducted from bills from next week.

Mr Ryan said the government was considering other measures and would ask the ESB to help, but any further measures would have to target those at risk of fuel poverty.

He did not specify what measures, but did not rule out a reduction in national speed limits to encourage energy-efficient driving and achieve a reduction in the consumption of diesel and petrol, the price of which has also risen. sharply.

The International Energy Agency has recommended such an approach. Mr Ryan said it would be more effective if adopted as an EU-wide measure.

The minister also said he would not rule out the construction of a state-owned LNG (liquefied natural gas) terminal to ship and store imported gas in liquefied form, but he said it would be wrong to consider LNG as “the great saviour”.

“The answer will not be a doubling of fossil fuels,” he said. “We will reduce our dependence on oil, coal and gas. The alternative will be green.

Mr Ryan said the public was behind that response.

Since the announcement of the new National Retrofit Program seven weeks ago, grant applications for solar panels, heat pumps, EV chargers and complete retrofits have tripled.

He said he expects the first “one-stop-shop” service, where businesses will handle paperwork, installation and renovation grant applications, to launch next week.

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