Wholesale energy prices fell more than 50pc in March but no relief for consumers

Daragh Cassidy of Bonkers.ie

Sarah Collins

Wholesale electricity prices fell by 50.5pc in the year to March, according to the Central Statistics Office.

Electricity prices in the wholesale market - the price paid by utility firms to electricity generators - were also down in the month between February and March, falling 8.7pc.

Overall, wholesale prices – what manufacturers and wholesale outlets receive for their goods – rose slightly by 0.5pc in March, with food prices showing some signs of slowing.

However, consumers are still paying far more than they were this time last year for both energy and food.

CSO inflation data shows consumer electricity prices rose 62.7pc in the year to March. Wholesale energy prices makes up more than 50pc of the total price paid by households and firms on the island of Ireland.

Daragh Cassidy of price comparison site Bonkers.ie said that even though wholesale prices have come down, they are still far higher than they were before Russia’s war on Ukraine began in February 2022, meaning consumers are unlikely to fell the benefits in their energy bills any time soon.

“At one stage last year, the [wholesale] price of gas was up 1000pc and no one’s bills went up by that much,” Mr Cassidy said. “It will take time for [the price falls] to feed through. Ireland is not alone in that.”

Gas is still used to produce the bulk of Ireland’s electricity, and the high cost of energy is still filtering through the manufacturing sector, the CSO data shows.

Producer prices for food products fell 0.3pc between February and March but were still up by 5.2pc compared to March 2022.

Fruit and vegetables rose 18.2pc, fish products were up 17.5pc and dairy producer prices increased by 15.4pc.

CSO inflation data shows consumer prices for similar foods continued to rise in March as previous energy hikes for firms fed through to the supermarket shelf.

While wholesale prices for construction products fell slightly - by 0.1pc - month on month in March, they were up 13.5pc in the year, with glass, ceramics, cement, concrete and stone rising almost 18pc.

Whiskey and other drinks manufacturers have reported shortages and high costs of glass bottles in recent months, on top of continued high energy prices.