Thursday, 22 November 1962
Dáil Eireann Debate
Mr. Norton: asked the Minister for Transport and Power whether he is aware that an applicant (name supplied) for a supply of electricity from the ESB was quoted in January 1962 a normal charge of 11/9d and a special charge of £3 7s 3d per bimensal period; and that in October  last the quotation for special charge was increased to £6 1s 7d; and if he will say what is the reason for this excessive charge.
Mr. Childers: Up to the enactment of the Electricity (Supply) (Amendment) Act 1962 rural electrification subsidy was made available at the rate of 50 per cent of the capital cost of connection. Since then rural electrification subsidy is made available at the rate of 75 per cent of the cost of connection subject to a maximum of £75 per dwelling. On this basis it was estimated that of the 112,000 rural dwellings which remained unconnected 77,000 could be connected at normal fixed rates of charges and a further 23,000 with special service charges not exceeding 50 per cent of the normal fixed charges. The remaining 12,000 dwellings which were the most isolated ones and which would be entirely uneconomic to connect would attract special service charges of more than twice the normal fixed rate of charge. The new subsidy scheme aims at securing the maximum number of connections and it is estimated that in due course some 96 per cent of rural dwellings will be connected. This achievement will compare favourably with that of many better-off countries in Europe. It was not anticipated that any of the 12,000 houses which were most uneconomic to connect would in fact seek connection and therefore the Government decided to make available to them the subsidy of £10 per house for bottled gas which was already available on islands where it was impracticable to provide electricity.
In the case in which the Deputy is interested, the cost of connection would be £340 as compared with an average cost of connection of £48 per house. After taking account of maximum State subsidy of £75 the minimum economic charge would be the normal fixed charge plus a special service charge of £6 1s 7d per bimensal period as quoted by the ESB.
Mr. Norton: Does the Minister not think it unreasonable that a person should be asked to pay more than ten times the normal charge after a Bill has been introduced which was  heralded as something that would bring relief to rural dwellers so far as the installation of electricity is concerned? Does his answer now mean that this cottier, who resides about 40 miles from Dublin, will never have the benefit of using electric light in his home because of the fact that he cannot meet these very high charges?
Mr. Childers: The scheme was worked out so as to enable the maximum number of persons to be connected. The Deputy will recognise that it would cost an average of something like £200 to connect each of the people in the 12,000 class and that would add enormously to the total capital cost of the scheme.
Mr. Norton: The residence of this man has not changed in the past 12 months. His house has not moved and the ESB have not moved in the past 12 months. Yet the ESB charge has been increased from £3 to £6 in the last 12 months, when all the factors are the same today as they were 12 months ago. What sort of manoeuvering is going on when everything remains static but the price goes up by 100 per cent?
Mr. Norton: The Taoiseach promised to do it but, like every other promise, he tore it up completely when he got into power. If he wants any reminder of that I shall produce evidence of it in the Dáil next week by Parliamentary Questions.
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