Sinn Féin have launched legislation to ensure that energy companies are regulated fairly so that customers are protected.Sinn Féin’s Electricity Regulation (Amendment) Bill 2023 introduces measures to ensure that the Commission for the Regulation of Utilities (CRU) is fit for purpose, including increased power to monitor and regulate hedging practices and to investigate and sanction instances of anti-competitive behaviour in the energy market.The Bill was brought forward by Sinn Féin spokesperson for Climate Action and the Environment, Darren O’Rourke TD and Senator Lynn Boylan, after the Commission for the Regulation of Utilities confirmed to the climate committee that they do not have oversight over the hedging strategies of energy companies, meaning that such strategies remain totally unregulated.Commenting on the published legislation he told Meath Live, “Irish energy prices are some of the highest in Europe. Workers and families are struggling to afford their energy bills. They need a break from these sky high costs.“Despite the fact that wholesale energy prices have fallen 64% from July last year to a new two year low, the cost of energy is still exorbitantly high and continues to place considerable strain on ordinary workers and families.“The fact is when compared to our European counterparts, Ireland remains and outlier. Retail energy prices were falling all over Europe while Ireland’s remained stubbornly high. Although more recently, some energy companies have begun lowering the prices following the entry of a new lower price competitor to the market, the fact remains that the average bill is now almost €1,000 more than last year!“The reason for this, we are told, is because of the so-called hedging practices of energy companies. Yet our own regulator has absolutely zero oversight over this, as was confirmed by the CRU’s latest visit to the climate committee. Evidently, we’re just supposed to trust that energy companies are not taking advantage of sky-high prices while simultaneously maintaining obscene profits. All in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis! It beggars belief!“It is clear that ordinary workers and families have had enough. While the government and the regulator act as mere commentators, Sinn Féin is ready to tackle this issue once and for all. Our legislation introduces a suite of practical measures to ensure that the regulator has the regulatory teeth to rein in energy companies. It also enhances transparency and accountability thus bringing the Irish regulator in line with European counterparts.“I am urging all TDs to stand up for Irish customers and back our legislation.”S