Friday 15 December 2017

ESB faces further electricity market share cut as it loses its default supplier status

Electric Ireland is the default supplier for new properties if a homeowner does not select a provider. Stock image
Electric Ireland is the default supplier for new properties if a homeowner does not select a provider. Stock image
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

The ESB controls just half Ireland's electricity market, with its share having fallen between 2015 and 2016, according to new figures from the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER).

And the ESB's Electric Ireland unit could see its market share fall further as the watchdog takes action to ensure that all electricity providers have an opportunity to be first in line in supplying electricity to new homes.

At the moment, Electric Ireland is the default supplier for new properties if a homeowner does not select a provider.

Releasing its retail markets annual report for 2016 yesterday, the CER noted that in 2016, Electric Ireland had a 77pc share of new electricity user registrations, compared to 80pc in 2015 and 86pc in 2014.

"The CER is currently taking action through industry fora to ensure all suppliers have an equal opportunity to avail of new registrations," it noted in its report. A spokesman said there's no timeline with regards to when changes might be implemented.

The report showed that Electric Ireland's market share by the end of 2016 compared to 2015 fell 3.36pc to 51.35pc in terms of overall electricity consumption in the residential market, while the number of sites it provided electricity to declined 3.38pc, or by more than 40,100, to 1.14m, or 56.21pc of the total.

There were 2.04m residential electricity users at the end of 2016, virtually unchanged since the end of 2015.

Bord Gáis Energy, owned by Centrica, is the second-largest provider of electricity, with a 15.9pc share of the domestic electricity market in terms of total customer numbers. It has a 17.2pc share of the electricity market in terms of total electricity usage.

In terms of customer numbers, SSE Airtricity is the third-largest electricity provider, while PrePay Power is fourth and Energia fifth.

The report also showed that Bord Gáis Energy remains by far the largest gas provider to residential users, with 332,150 customers at the end of 2016.

Electric Ireland was the next largest, with 148,259. The next nearest competitor was SSE Airtricity, with 92,971.

The CER said that a large proportion of domestic customers have never switched energy supplier.

"Consequently, only a portion of customers are availing of the benefits of switching and the discounted offers available in the market," it said.

It said the percentage of customers switching provider was just 15pc last year, compared to 11pc in 2011.

"Non-domestic customers may also be affected by a lack of transparency in prices and contracts offered by suppliers, as due to the nature of bespoke plans there are no comparison tools currently available," the CER noted.

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