OIL PRICES TUMBLE – SO WHY NO DROP IN ELECTRICITY OR GAS BILLS?

The average wholesale price of oil and gas has fallen by 40 percent but electricity and gas consumers have hardly noticed any price fall.

People Before Profit spokesperson, Brid Smith said,

‘We were told that privatisation would lead to cheaper prices but the current experience shows that this was a lie.

‘Most of the profitable parts of Bord Gais were sold off cheaply to Centrica, the owner of British gas. The state held on to the gas pipeline network and kept responsibility for its safety. But Centrica took over the supply of gas and electricity to 750,000 customers.

‘At the time it was suggested that privatisation would bring efficiency and lower prices. But despite the fact that wholesale prices have been dropping for three years, the private company is profiteering from the situation.

‘The ESB has been subject to pressure from the EU to make room for greater ‘market competition’ and it was claimed that this would bring lower prices. To facilitate this change, consumers are charged a special Public Services Obligation levy to help subsidise rival firms to enter the market.

‘Prior to the introduction of competition into the electricity market, Ireland had some of the lowest electricity prices in Europe for domestic users. Following the introduction of EU competition rules, the ESB’s prices were set 14 percent higher to encourage other firms to enter the market. Now despite falling oil prices, there has been no substantial cut in our electricity bills.

‘Data from the Central Statistics Office revealed that 15% of the population had difficulty affording heating at some stage — double the number in 2009. Tens of thousands of gas and electricity customers have been disconnected. Yet the private companies who control our energy needs do not care.

‘The reality is that privatisation does not bring lower prices or more efficiency. Instead it leads to profiteering and lower rates of long term investment.

‘Before the last election the Labour Party stated that it was opposed to ‘short-termist energy privatisation’. But the Labour Minister Pat Rabbitte then went and sold off Bord Gais to Centrica for a knock down price.

‘It was another promise broken – another lie told. We should never be fooled again.’

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