HomeBussinessFuel retailers furious over new price comparison poster

Fuel retailers furious over new price comparison poster

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Those who fail to show a Fuel Price Comparison poster can be hit with an on-the-spot fine of €500. The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) wrote to retailers on February 29, telling them the display had to be in place within 30 days.

“The purpose of this regulation is to provide consumers with visible, consistent and clear information regarding the comparative price of a variety of transport fuels,” SEAI transport programme manager Shane Prendergast told retailers. “This [information] is compiled by the SEAI based on a common vehicle class, efficiency, charging patterns and costs.”

The current poster says the approximate cost of travelling 100km with petrol is €10.04, with diesel is €8.95, and for electric is €3.18. Updated values are to be published by the SEAI every three months, and then fuel stations must update their posters within five working days.

“Obligated fuelling stations will be subject to inspection for compliance by SEAI,” the retailers were told.

“Failure to comply with this regulation is an offence and liable on summary conviction to a class A fine.”

Petrol stations are being given three options for how they display the Fuel Price Comparison. It can be an A3-sized poster displayed near the pumps, an A2-sized poster at the entrance or within the shop, or on a 19in screen which shows the information for a minimum of 20 seconds per minute.

Retailers are angry at the requirement, and met the SEAI last Tuesday to make their displeasure known.

The Convenience Stores and Newsagents Association (CSNA), a representative body, said that apart from the added costs, it was unfair to make retailers tell their customers that a rival product was better value.

“It is tantamount to requiring a pork butcher to advise customers about the relative value of a range of vegan food, or a bank being obliged to download the Bonkers website, and that failure to do so was an offence,” Vincent Jennings, CEO of the CSNA, said.

“We have not been given any prior knowledge of this, and we note that when the work on it was carried out in Europe in 2021, the Irish State were not participants in any of the preparatory discussions.”

Kevin McPartlan, CEO of Fuels for Ireland, said: “The SEAI shocked the forecourt operators of Ireland by issuing an edict out of the blue requiring them to display fuel price comparisons. Fuels for Ireland had a number of concerns about this and met with the SEAI. It was agreed that inadequate notice had been given and that the legal requirements were not clearly defined in the correspondence sent to fuel retailers.

“As a result, SEAI committed to arrange online briefings for fuels station operators before expecting full compliance. This is just one more example of Government and its agencies attempting to navigate our essential energy transition without properly engaging with the sector which currently provides half of the country’s energy.”

In a follow-up email sent to Fuels for Ireland, an SEAI representative said it had “taken on board each of the points raised” at the meeting.

One concession it has made is to increase the range of EV charging prices used in the calculation.

Retailers were unhappy that the electricity price the SEAI intended to use was from ESB e-cars, which they argued was misleadingly low.

The SEAI also agreed to remove a reference to a “drive electric” website on the posters. Instead, the domain address seai.ie/fpc can be used.

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