High levels of market awareness and supplier switching in Ireland


Dermot Nolan,
Dublin, Ireland and Belfast, Northern Ireland — (METERING.COM) — July 6, 2010 – High levels of electricity market awareness and satisfaction with supplier switching for residential and business customers have emerged in the first all-island Irish electricity retail market consumer survey.

According to the survey, which was commissioned by the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) in Ireland and Northern Ireland’s Utility Regulator (UR), in Ireland’s residential sector 26 percent of consumers reported having switched electricity supplier over the last 12 months, with 97 percent of the switchers finding the process very easy or easy, and almost 80 percent finding the bill reduction matched their expectations. TV, radio and newspaper were reported as the top three sources of information on switching.

In Northern Ireland’s residential market, domestic competition is still to be developed. However, 60 percent stated they would be very interested or interested in switching if competition were available, with cost cited as the main concern followed by service.
In the business sector, in Ireland 40 percent of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and 34 percent of large energy users (LEUs) switched electricity supplier in the past 12 months, while in Northern Ireland 20 percent of SMEs and 16 percent of LEUs switched. In both markets around 90 percent in both categories found the process very easy or easy and more than 70 percent saw their electricity bills reduced as expected. In this market the internet, direct contact and advertising were the most common sources of information on switching.

“The Irish electricity retail market has undergone considerable change in the last 18 months and the CER welcomes the positive feedback from domestic consumers and business on the customer supplier switching experience to date,” said commissioner Dermot Nolan of the CER. “The CER will continue to promote awareness amongst consumers, with a focus on addressing the branding issues and pricing transparency so that all consumers can enjoy the benefits of competition.”

Notably in other research earlier this year Ireland’s Bord Gáis Energy was found to have won nearly 21 percent of the occupied residential electricity market in Ireland between February 2009 and 2010, setting a record for the percentage of residential customers in the market who were won over a 12 month period (see World record customer wins for Bord Gáis Energy).

The research was commissioned to gain insights into the attitudes and experiences of domestic and business customers in both retail electricity markets, North and South, over the 12 months to January 2010, with a view to promoting competition.

In Northern Ireland both residential and business customers felt there was a low level of competition in the market, and both sets of customers in both markets felt that prices were higher than in other jurisdictions.