The Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment has said Electric Ireland needs to answer questions as to why they are reducing bills for business customers but not households.

Electric Ireland will reduce its electricity tariffs for small and medium enterprises in the Republic of Ireland by an average of 10% from next month.

Gas prices for these businesses are set to fall by an average of 15%.

However, the energy company said it is very difficult to project the trajectory of residential electricity and gas prices but it will continue to keep rates under review.

Electric Ireland told these business customers that the reduction is the result of a decrease in the cost of wholesale energy prices.

They said the exact changes will vary depending on the price plan of each business and on how much electricity and gas it uses.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Simon Coveney said that that household customers would rightly be questioning that approach by Electric Ireland.

"Of course, it's welcome for businesses that electricity prices are going down by 10% and gas prices by 15%. But I think many households listening to that story yesterday on the radio will be asking themselves the question why isn't that applying to my bill? And I think that is that is a fair question to answer," he said.

Mr Coveney said Minister for Finance Michael McGrath "was correct yesterday when he said that I think consumers and households would have a legitimate expectation now that the same would apply to them".

He said that as wholesale prices for gas have fallen significantly, "we want to see households benefiting from that change in market reality".

"We want to see it changing quickly because when wholesale prices increase, the increases seem to happen quickly for households and for businesses and so likewise when wholesale prices fall, we want to see the benefits of that as quickly as possible," Mr Coveney added.

He said households and businesses have had a tough winter.

"If it hadn't been for Government supports, it would have been even tougher. So, of course we want to see households benefiting from reduced electricity prices when the market allows for that, and I think there's an explanation needed as to how an energy company can reduce for businesses but not for households," he said.

Govt 'expectation' of lower energy prices

The Taoiseach has said the Government expects energy companies to lower prices over the coming months and that this expectation was not just "polite encouragement".

Leo Varadkar told the Dáil that the Europe-wide windfall tax is on the way and will be legislated for by the Oireachtas.

It followed questions from Labour leader Ivana Bacik, who said that households were facing "intolerable" pressure in terms of energy prices.

She criticised energy companies for not lowering prices for customers, despite wholesale prices falling.

Leo Varadkar said that he expects to see the fall in wholesale prices reflected in household bills.

"It only took a few months for prices to go up, it should only take a few months for prices to go down," he said.

He said that the Government is acting, through the 9% VAT rate, energy credits and the Temporary Business Energy Support Scheme.