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1 December 2013 Edition

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Bord Gáis privatisation

• The past three years have seen energy bills already rise by €500

‘The Big Six’ major private energy companies controlling the British market have been accused of ‘fixing’ energy prices.

THE Gas Regulation Bill 2013 now passing through the Dáil and the Seanad allows for the privatisation of Bord Gáis Energy and the risk of large price hikes with the added risk of increased fuel poverty.

In 2008, St Vincent de Paul gave out €3.8million to families in need for fuel and energy; by 2011, that had reached €10.4million — effectively a quarter of the assistance that they distribute.

The past three years have seen energy bills already rise by €500.

What control the state has over energy prices at the present time would largely be eliminated if Irish energy companies were to transfer into private ownership.

Control of the domestic energy market is proving a contentious debate in Britain.

‘The Big Six’ major private energy companies controlling the British market have been accused of ‘fixing’ energy prices.

Public anger has mounted against private energy companies with 68% of people in Britain believing that they should be nationalised, according to a recent YouGov Poll.

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Consumer champion ‘Which?’ says only one in seven customers thinks the Big Six power giants act in their best interests. Energy providers are now trusted less than bankers, car salesmen and train operators.

At the same time, those in fuel poverty are seeing their benefits slashed by the Tory-led government. The hangover from the Thatcher era privatisation policies have resulted in an energy market that is driven by profit margins instead of delivering a public good.

In Germany, a referendum supported by Die Linke and the Green Party was held on whether Berlin’s electricity grid should pass back into public ownership. Over 80% of those who voted favoured the nationalisation measure but it fell just short of the 25% turn-out needed to become law. In September, Hamburg’s citizens voted in favour of nationalising the electricity grid.

The Labour Party 2012 party conference passed a motion calling for Irish state assets to remain in public ownership. However, with two Labour Party ministers, Pat Rabbitte (Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources) and Brendan Howlin (Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform) leading the charge in these sell-offs, it appears that Labour Party policy has little impact on decisions made at the Cabinet table.

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