The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Richard Bruton T.D. today (Tuesday the 5th of May 2020) welcomed agreement on a Scheme which will significantly reduce energy bills for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) which have had to close temporarily due to COVID 19. The Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) has worked with all of the system operators – Eirgrid, ESB Networks and GNI – and with suppliers in developing this initiative.
Eligible small and medium sized businesses affected can apply to the Scheme, through their supplier. No energy or network charges will be billed for their business premises for the duration that the measure is in place.
Minister Bruton said,
"From today, any SME who has had to close temporarily due to the Covid pandemic, can apply to a new Scheme which will see a very significant reduction in their energy bills during the period. Electricity and gas charges are typically a small proportion of many business's overall costs; however it is important that everything possible is done to support enterprise during this particularly difficult time. The measures being announced today will also ensure that enterprises can return to operation as quickly as possible once the public health restrictions are revised."
This initiative builds on earlier electricity and gas customer protection measures aimed at households introduced in light of the Covid 19 pandemic including;
- The introduction of a moratorium on disconnections of domestic customers for non-payment, extended to 16th June 2020.
- Increasing emergency credit for gas prepayment meters from €10 to €100
- The prioritisation of reconnections
- Providing advice on the CRU website for customers facing difficulty paying bills, including contacting their supplier to agree a payment plan, per existing industry protocol.
Minister Bruton said,
"I'd like to thank the Commission for Regulation of Utilities, system operators and all utility suppliers for their work in developing and committing to this initiative"
The details of the scheme including its terms and conditions are set out in the CRU decision paper here. The scheme is available from 1st May 2020 for eligible customers and will be in place for a maximum of 90 days. Customers wishing to apply for this scheme must contact their supplier directly.
For customers who are concerned about paying their electricity or gas bill during this time, CRU have provided a suite of useful information on their website which can be accessed here.
The CRU has indicated that it is continuing to monitor the market at this time and will take action, where appropriate to protect customers.
Notes to the Editor:
The Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) is an independent regulator under domestic and EU regulatory legislation. The CRU was assigned responsibility for the regulation of the Irish electricity market following the enactment of the Electricity Regulation Act, 1999 and subsequent legislation.
The PSO levy remains as a charge on the electricity bill. The PSO supports the development of renewable electricity, which is important for reducing carbon emissions from electricity generation and for security of supply and is a vital policy support to enable Ireland to reach legally binding renewable energy targets.
To remove the PSO levy from bills for the suspension period would be likely to require changes to primary legislation. The PSO Levy on average amounts to €10.35 per month or €1.22/kVA (both ex VAT) per month for those businesses which qualify for the scheme.