Weak economy hits energy demand from business customers
Electricity demand in Ireland among large users slumped more than 11pc in the third quarter of 2009 compared to the equivalent period in 2008, as the weak economy suppressed activity.
New figures from the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) reveal that electricity demand among small businesses was more than 6pc lower in the quarter, while it was more than 4.7pc down for medium-sized businesses. Electricity demand in the residential sector was nearly 1.6pc lower.
This week, the NCB Purchasing Managers' Index -- which measures manufacturing activity in Ireland -- fell to 48.1 in January from 48.8 in November and December, as cold weather impacted on activity. Anything under 50 on the index indicates contraction.
The CER data also shows that for the first time in the medium-sized business market, the ESB lost its dominant position. In the third quarter Energia moved ahead of the state-owned operator to supplying more than 31pc of medium-sized businesses in the country.
Nearly 116,000 customers across all sectors changed their electricity supplier during the quarter to the end of September, representing more than 5pc of all electricity consumers in the country. More than 183,000 had changed in the previous quarter.
There are about two million residential electricity customers in the State.
Last year, Bord Gais entered the residential electricity market, as did Airtricity, which is owned by Scottish & Southern Energy. The Irish energy market was fully liberalised in 2009.
The ESB remains the dominant provider in the residential market, supplying 84pc of customers, although Bord Gais now supplies over 12pc and Airtricity more than 3pc.
In May last year alone, ESB lost 80,000 residential customers, while in June it lost almost a further 40,000. Bord Gais gained most of the customers the ESB lost in May.