It was reported today that Bord Gáis, the state-owned energy company, had a 29% increase in its pre-tax profits for 2012, some €121 million. At the same time the dividend from Bord Gáis to the state has fallen by almost €10 million to €23.8m.
Dividend from Bord Gáis down by nearly
At the same time the company has over 100,000 of its customers in arrears, with many of them now tied to payment plans and some 62,000 customers who have been given pay-as-you-go meters.
The Company has several large increases in its prices to consumers over the past years despite the recession when people's incomes have fallen significantly in real terms.
Is it time for the government to force Bord Gáis and other energy companies to bring their prices down? Is it time to bring in a social price for those on limited means who still require heat and cooking power?
Clearly the price of gas and energy in this country has increased dramatically over the past few years, despite the discovery of significant oil and gas off our coast and the increasing amount of wind energy (free after the infrastructure has been created, apart from maintenance costs). In my view this is all about Privatisation of companies like the ESB and Bord Gáis and keeping the price up to make buying into these companies attractive to investors.
The privatisation of utilities is about profiteering and always leads to increased costs for consumers. Social aids such as fuel allowances and free units for the poor will eventually be taken away. Time to scrap the privatisation plans and return the social element to utilities.