27th September 2010: The Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Eamon Ryan TD, has today (Monday 27th September 2010) launched Airtricity’s new SmarterEnergy card, an innovative customer payment card from Ireland’s fastest-growing energy utility Airtricity. The card was launched by the Minister at St Andrew's Street Post Office, Dublin 2.
Utilising bar-code technology, the conveniently-sized SmarterEnergy card will allow Airtricity billpayers to manage the cost of their home gas and electricity, regardless of their chosen monthly or bi-monthly payment method, by making top-up payments into their account at over 1,100 An Post post offices or over 3,000 PostPoint outlets nationwide. Payments can also be made using the online payment website Billpay.ie.
Airtricity’s new SmarterEnergy card fits neatly into any wallet or purse and will carry each customer’s personal Airtricity account details. The card is being delivered free of charge from October to all existing Airtricity customers, now numbering over 330,000, and to all new customers switching to Airtricity for cheaper gas and electricity.
This is the first time that an Irish energy utility has launched a personalised account payment card to its entire domestic customer base for both gas and electricity, and follows months of ongoing development between Airtricity and An Post.
Launching the new card, Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Eamon Ryan TD, commented: ““Electricity prices have reduced significantly in Ireland in the last 2 years. Even including the PSO levy, prices today are up to 18% lower for domestic customers than they were in 2008. There are savings to be made instantly in gas and electricity if the customer switches supplier.
“Even still, in these times we want to make it as easy as possible for customers to pay their gas and electricity bills in a way that is convenient for them. I welcome Airtricity’s joint venture with An Post to make it easier for customers to pay when and what suits them.
“The policy of competition has reduced prices in the energy sector as well as bringing forward such innovations.”
Direct debit customers, who represent over 98% of Airtricity’s customer base, can get the best of both worlds with their new SmarterEnergy card – they will continue to enjoy Airtricity’s maximum discounts by paying by direct debit for cheaper gas and electricity along with the convenience of now being able to make top-up payments for any amount at any time into their account at an An Post or PostPoint outlet. Customers will then be billed for their outstanding balance in their next billing or when their next direct debit payment is processed.
Wendy Jennings, Airtricity’s Customer Experience Manager, commented: “Customers who have switched to Airtricity already enjoy some of the biggest savings on home gas and electricity unit rates. Now, with the launch of Airtricity’s new SmarterEnergy card, we’re putting the customer in control of their energy payments.
“This is an innovative approach by Airtricity as a responsible energy supplier to help our entire customer base have greater control over their energy costs, especially as we come into the colder winter months when energy costs rise. The new payment method proactively addresses the issue of managing energy payments rather than simply waiting until arrears have built-up to introduce payment plans.
“Every Airtricity customer will now be able to stay in control of their energy costs – instead of paying their bill in one lump sum on receipt of their bill customers can now use our new SmarterEnergy card to make regular, smaller top-up payments at their own convenience and spread the cost of their Airtricity energy bills across their standard billing period.”
The launch of Airtricity’s SmarterEnergy card is one of a range of customer payment support initiatives being launched today by Ireland’s fastest-growing and most-trusted energy utility. In addition to the commencement of the delivery of SmarterEnergy cards to all Airtricity customers during October, Airtricity customers will be able to make a part or full bill payment from October 1st at Post Office and PostPoint outlets or online 24/7 at BillPay.ie.
The company is commencing a major customer campaign to promote the management of energy costs and to increase awareness of energy cost reductions through cuts in domestic energy consumption.
The company will also promote awareness of accurate billing and avoiding the build-up of debt by only paying for the energy the customer uses through submitting regular meter reads for gas and electricity using Airtricity’s free e-mail and text alerts service.
The launch of Airtricity’s SmarterEnergy card follows last week’s announcement by Airtricity of a massive 20% discount off Bord Gáis Energy’s regulated retail standard tariff unit rates for home gas – the new product is designed to benefit high gas users during the winter period. The company is also promoting other product options with competitive discounts on regulated retail standard tariff unit rates for customers who do not have gas or who do not want a fixed term contract.
In addition to these new payment initiatives, Airtricity is advising any customer who would like further advice in managing their budgets or who may be experiencing difficulties in paying their energy bill to contact Airtricity’s Customer Service team on 1850 40 40 70. The company has also announced that it is discontinuing applying administration costs to the regulated charges for disconnection and reconnection with immediate effect.