January 25th, 2021
We wish to share information with you from Safeguarding Ireland about ‘Vulnerable’ Customers’ Registers which exist for users of energy and water. You may find it beneficial to register. MDI wishes to acknowledge that the Commission of Regulation of Utilities uses the term ‘vulnerable’ to refer solely to a person’s medical vulnerability.
All energy and water utility companies are required to provide such a ‘vulnerable’ customers’ register. According to the Commission of Regulation of Utilities (CRU):
Energy customers can be classified as a ‘vulnerable’ customer if they meet the following:
- If critically dependent on electrically powered equipment. This includes (but is not limited to) life protecting devices, assistive technologies to support independent living and medical equipment, or
- If particularly ‘vulnerable’ to disconnection during winter months for reasons of advanced age or physical, sensory, intellectual or mental health.
Customers of Irish Water can be classified as a ‘vulnerable’ customer if they meet the following:
- If critically dependant on water for their medical needs, or
- If for reasons that may include advanced age or physical, sensory, intellectual or mental health reasons, you require additional support communicating with, or receiving services from, Irish Water.
What a ‘Vulnerable’ Customer should do?
If a person or member of their household is a ‘vulnerable’ customer, it is important that they let their energy supplier and / or Irish Water know. The utility companies must take reasonable steps to identify customers who should be included. However, it is up to the customers to let them know if they qualify as a ‘vulnerable’ customer.
Safeguarding Ireland supports that:
- Any eligible clients your organisation may have who are not already registered should look into, apply for and join the relevant registers.
- Across the sector we as organisations continue to encourage all utilities to prioritise the needs of the most ‘vulnerable’ customers.
Being on the register helps to safeguard those who are ‘vulnerable’. Also, other important benefits can arise. For example, in December, Electric Ireland announced an additional €100 credit to 10,000 people on its ‘vulnerable’ customers register to support them during the pandemic. Initiatives such as this are to be encouraged, particularly at this time, however the key message is that people must be registered to avail of them.