Full price deregulation for Irish energy market


Michael G. Tutty,
Chairperson, CER
Dublin, Ireland — (METERING.COM) — March 7, 2011 – Ireland’s Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) has decided to end price regulation for residential customers, following a similar decision to deregulate prices for business customers from last October.

This decision will enable Electric Ireland, which is the new name for ESB supply activities, to set its own electricity prices for domestic customers in Ireland from April 4.

The decision was based on the fact that the various criteria that were set by the CER in its deregulation “Roadmap” last April, have been met. In particular, due to the high level of competition among suppliers for electricity customers, Electric Ireland’s market share (by consumption) in the domestic electricity market has reduced below the 60 percent threshold set.

This is because there has been very strong competition in the retail electricity market since early 2009, with about 1 million supplier switches since then across all suppliers – including about 1/3 of customers switching supplier more than once.

The Roadmap also required that the ESB supply companies should be rebranded to allow for price deregulation at the 60 percent market threshold. This is in order to avoid confusion among customers as to the difference between ESB as the impartial operator of Ireland’s distribution network and its separate role as a supplier competing in the market. It is also consistent with legal requirements at EU level. The rebranding process commenced with the launch of the Electric Ireland brand in December 2010, which will fully replace the ESB supply names by end December 2011.

Customer protection in the newly deregulated market is of paramount importance and the CER will be implementing a range of new initiatives in this area, the organization said in a statement. These include customer education campaigns, the provision of detailed consumption information and tariff comparison facilities to empower all customers to benefit from increased competition. The CER will continue to monitor the electricity retail markets after deregulation to ensure they are working well and delivering for customers.

“Regulation has created the right conditions for a competitive electricity market to flourish, bringing lower prices and improved choice and quality of tariff products,” commented CER chairperson Michael G. Tutty. “Deregulation of prices will help provide further choice and competitive prices in the long run. The CER is committed to building on this progress with detailed measures to protect consumers and support the competitive market.”