THE first casualty of the energy crisis has emerged with the announcement that Belfast-based Bright Energy is to leave the market in the Republic.
It comes as dozens of energy firms have collapsed in the UK.
The Commission for the Regulation of Utilities has stepped in to transfer Bright’s customers here to Electric Ireland.
It did this under what is known as a supplier of last resort procedure to ensure that customers’ electricity supply is not interrupted and that their consumer rights are protected.
Bright sold what it said was green energy in this market, but surging wholesale energy costs have made it impossible for suppliers to avoid losses.
Other smaller players in this market are also expected to exit the market.
Bright Energy entered the residential electricity market here in the summer of 2020, promising major discounts to those who switched to it.
There are 14 players in the residential supply market in this State.
The surge in wholesale energy prices in the last year had prompted Bright to announce a number of double-digit price rises for its residential customers last year.
An electricity price rise it announced last August was 26pc.
Now it has decided to exist the market.
The Commission for the Regulation of Utilities (CRU) said that under its customer protection protocols, Electric Ireland are the designated electricity supplier of last resort.
This means all Bright Energy customers will automatically transfer to Electric Ireland immediately for a minimum period of 20 business days.
The CRU has directed Electric Ireland to engage with the affected customers to inform them of this change and of their future options of energy supply.
A spokesperson for the regulator said: “Customers do not need to take any immediate action and their electricity supply will not be interrupted.
“Electric Ireland will contact customers directly within five business days to offer customers a tariff to remain with them or provide these customers with the option of switching to another supplier after the minimum 20 business days period.”
It is understood that Bright only had a small number of customers in this market.
Belfast-based Bright was founded by brothers Ciaran and Stephen Devine, who set up the energy company in partnership with oil supplier the Maxol Group.
The firm operates the Lisahally combined heat and power plant in the North.
Daragh Cassidy of price comparison site Bonkers.ie said more consolidation cannot be ruled out.
This was especially the case given the small size of the market with 14 different suppliers.
He said the energy crisis over the past year has not helped suppliers or consumers.