Wednesday, 15 June 2005
Dáil Eireann Debate
63. Mr. Costello asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources if his attention has been drawn to a recent energy survey by IBEC showing that two-thirds of businesses surveyed switched from ESB to independent electricity suppliers in a bid to cut costs; his views on the high energy costs affecting Ireland’s ability to attract foreign investment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19894/05]
Liberalisation of the electricity market has proceeded on a phased basis since February 2000 under the regulatory oversight of the Commission for Energy Regulation, the independent regulator for gas and electricity, in accordance with the Electricity Regulation Act 1999. On 19 February this year the market opened fully to competition. This is over two years in advance of the July 2007 deadline set down in Electricity Directive 2003/54/EC.
All customers are now eligible to source their electricity from any licensed supplier and the entire market becomes contestable. Scope now exists for all customers, household and non-household alike, to seek out keener prices in the competitive market. The switching between independent suppliers shows that business customers are price and quality sensitive and having a choice of supplier is allowing them to make the decision on what best meets their needs. I welcome the fact that companies are exercising their right to choose their optimum supplier as an indication that the liberalisation of the market is working.
My objective is to have in place policies and a regulatory environment, which will deliver a competitive energy and electricity market leading to the lowest sustainable prices. That said, locational disadvantages and some settled policies, such as the burning of peat and the support for renewable energy, place upward pressure on price. I expect that the major consultancy into electricity which commenced recently and the recent publication by both regulators of the single electricity market proposals will assist us in policy evolution towards a more competitive market.
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