The reference in the Deputy's question to reported concerns of business leaders is somewhat vague. It is important to note, however, that the electricity market in Ireland is in a transitional phase at present. The market is moving from ade facto monopoly with a single player towards a competitive market in an industry with relatively long lead times for investment. Such change needs to be conceived and effected in an orderly and measured manner, in order to ensure that the benefits are lasting and long-term.
Confusion may exist about the relationship between the liberalisation of the electricity market and the rebalancing of tariffs. Tariffs rose by a total of only 3.5% in nominal terms between 1986 and 2001, well below inflation, leading to a situation where eventually generation costs were being under-recovered and grid investment was postponed. As the process of rebalancing has been conducted in parallel with the first steps of liberalisation, it could be perceived that there has been a cause and effect, normally that, the market has been opened and, in response to this, prices for consumers have risen. This is not the case.