ESB CUSTOMERS CAN expect cheaper electricity bills in the coming months after the state regulator for the industry gave it clearance to set its own prices from next month.
The Commission for Energy Regulation yesterday announced it was ending price regulation for domestic electricity customers – which means that, from April 4, ESB or the rebranded Electric Ireland will be allowed to set its own prices.
Previously, the ESB had been forced to maintain a minimum price for its electricity as part of the commission’s scheme for encouraging open competition in the market, most obviously displayed through the entrance of Bord Gais Energy and Airtricity to the domestic market.
In a statement, the commission said the various criteria for deregulating prices – which had been outlined in a ‘roadmap’ last year – had been met, with Electric Ireland’s market share now below the 60 per cent threshold set out by the plan.
A million domestic customers have changed electricity provider since the ESB’s monopoly was broken in early 2009, with around 40 per cent of all customers having changed provider within the last year.
The rebranding of ESB as ‘Electric Ireland’ was also part of those requirements, with the commission keen that the public be able to separate the ESB’s role as the manager of the national grid, while Electric Ireland would be a consumer-catered company.
Bord Gais has claimed it will be handicapped by the deregulation of the electricity market, however, telling the Irish Independent its competitors would now be able to capitalise on the deregulated market while the gas market – in which Bord Gais remains dominant – retains its formal structures.
Electric Ireland is to enter the gas market, however, later this year.