(Wicklow, Fine Gael)
Question 74: To ask the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources when he expects the ESB market share of domestic household electricity supply to be below 60%; and if he will make a statement on the matter
(Minister, Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources; Dublin South, Green Party)
The recently published decision by the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) on the road map for electricity price deregulation is an important step on the path to developing a fully competitive electricity market in Ireland. This decision demonstrates that Government and regulatory policy to encourage competition is paying dividends through lower prices and greater choice for Irish homes and businesses. The outcome of the road map decision is that ESB retail tariffs for business customers will no longer be regulated by the CER. The decision paper also sets out the criteria for deregulation of tariffs in the domestic market. Among these criteria is the reduction of ESB domestic market share to below 60%.
I endorse the CER view that this is likely to happen in the not-too-distant future. This assessment is based on the continued high rate of customer switching in the domestic market. Since early 2009, when BGE and Airtricity first entered the domestic market, some 23% of domestic customers have already switched supplier. This is a testament to the sophistication of Irish energy consumers, who are also clearly interested in the new options on offer such as alternative billing arrangements and more environmentally friendly electricity supplies, as well as value for money.
In addition to monitoring market shares and switching rates, it is important to ensure that all Irish consumers can benefit from a fully competitive and deregulated electricity market. I therefore welcome the CER commitment to take full action to enhance consumer awareness and full market transparency across all parts of the domestic market. My Department is also working on delivering enhanced consumer protection and information provisions as part of the transposition of the third EU internal energy market package of legislation.