One in three households switching off from the ESB
ONE in three Irish households has switched from the ESB to avail of cheaper electricity elsewhere, the Irish Independent has learned.
Around 700,000 homes have now changed providers since competition for domestic customers took off last year, according to the Commission for Energy Regulation.
A spokesman for the regulator last night said the pace of domestic switching is "unprecedented" in Europe.
He said it means the country is on target to see full price competition early next year when the ESB will be deregulated -- meaning the company can set its own prices.
A detailed breakdown of market share will be published next week. However, latest estimates show the ESB now has around 67pc of the country's two million domestic electricity users.
That equates to around 1.3 million customers, while rival Bord Gais has poached around 22pc, or 440,000 customers. Airtricity supplies 11pc or about 220,000 domestic customers.
The business electricity market was fully deregulated in recent weeks, meaning the ESB is now free to set its own prices and attempt to woo back customers lost to newer entrants.
Based on current switching rates, the domestic market is set to follow suit in the second quarter of next year.
Deregulation will be triggered when the ESB loses another 140,000 customers, meaning its market share is 60pc, when its prices will no longer be set by the regulator.
The reason its prices were fixed was to prevent it using its monopoly status to undercut smaller rivals and prevent them getting a toehold in the market.
Airtricity and Bord Gais have continued wooing electricity customers by offering discounts of 6-13pc on ESB rates.