I note my disappointment that the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Deputy Eamon Ryan, is unavailable. I raised a similar issue some weeks ago and the Minister did not show up then either.
I am in receipt of an independently commissioned report and analysis of recent details and figures pertaining to the wholesale electricity market in Ireland known as the integrated single electricity market, I-SEM. The I-SEM was created to integrate the Irish-only market with European power markets, including Britain. Within that is the day-ahead market, DAM, accounting for 84% of all electricity. This is the benchmark price for Irish electricity and utilities and ultimately sets the price for residential, commercial and industrial consumers.
The report clearly shows that there has been a €250 million increase in the price of electricity for consumers in three months until the end of September because the ESB has orchestrated and extracted super-normal profits. I have no doubt that the ESB has used the shortage of generation capacity and its dominant place in the marketplace to increase tenfold the wholesale price of power, which has resulted in higher prices for consumers over and above the escalating costs applying to the rest of Europe. The time has come for the Commission for Regulation of Utilities, CRU, to carry out an investigation into how consumers in Ireland have been so severely impacted by the global rise in energy costs.
A number of factors are at play. Global gas prices have risen significantly causing energy price inflation. Ireland also has a generation supply crisis caused by the failure to plan for adequate new generation capacity. By virtue of its dominant role as a generator, the ESB has been selling into the wholesale market where all power utilities purchase their energy at ten times the normal levels applicable in 2019 and 2020. These energy utilities include Bord Gáis Energy, Electric Ireland, Energia, Flogas, Panda Power, Prepay Power and SSE Airtricity. The ESB has been using the shortage in generation capacity to extract super-normal profits causing further electricity price inflation.
As a power generator the ESB has a right to set the price it pitches to the wholesale market. However, in the absence of large-scale alternative energy generators and when, for example, wind power is not playing a significant role, the ESB demand price becomes the wholesale price and energy supply companies have no choice but to pay. The ESB has been demanding prices of up to €490 per megawatt hour when the cost of production was under €150 per megawatt hour. This has never happened before in the Irish electricity market and is only possible because of the shortage of generation and the ESB's dominant market share.
In the report, which was submitted to the CRU some weeks ago, shows that this has led to a €250 million increase in wholesale power costs in the three months to September. The cost is being passed on to all homes and businesses. Based on these three months alone, households will pay an extra €150 in this year's bills. I call on the Minister, Deputy Eamon Ryan, to order the ESB to cease price gouging in the market and instruct the regulator to commission new generation from other suppliers to ensure adequate supply and competition in the marketplace.
I had previously questioned the Minister, through a Minister of State representing him in the Dáil, about whether the ESB was using its dominance to orchestrate the current energy capacity shortage and whether a €10 million payment was made by EirGrid to ESB generation in relation to emergency generation at the ESB North Wall facility, despite the process for such provision being withdrawn following High Court proceedings against the said process. Since I raised this issue, other Deputies have also questioned who authorised this payment and where the taxpayers' €10 million is now? What has the Minister done since to get to the bottom of this matter? He stated he did not sanction the payment. Will he indicate whether he knew about it before it was made? Will he instruct EirGrid and the ESB to respond to this charge that a €10 million payment was made, which, to say the least, was way out of order? Unfortunately, it brings the whole system into disrepute.