Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Questions (178)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

178. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the extent to which electricity prices here, in respect of both a domestic and industrial consumer, compare favourably or otherwise with those applicable in other EU member states within and outside the eurozone; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35558/13]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

Responsibility for the regulation of the retail electricity market is a matter for the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER), which is an independent statutory body. Prices in the electricity retail market are fully deregulated. Customers can therefore avail of competitive offerings from electricity suppliers. Prices are set by suppliers and are commercial and operational matters for them. I have no statutory function in the setting of electricity prices.

The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) has a lead role in developing and maintaining comprehensive national and sectoral statistics for energy production, transformation and end use. Since 2008, comparable data on electricity and gas prices for domestic and industrial consumers in respect of six month periods (or semester) is collected and published by Eurostat using the methodology for the EU Gas and Electricity Price Transparency Directives. SEAI then analyses the data published by Eurostat for each semester and publishes reports twice a year entitled “Electricity And Gas Prices in Ireland”. These reports present detailed information on and analysis of Ireland’s comparative electricity and gas prices and trends in these prices over time, for both EU 27 and Eurozone Member States. These reports are publicly available at the following link and contain all the information the Deputy is requesting for all semesters up to the first half of 2012:

http://www.seai.ie/Publications/Statistics_Publications/EPSSU_Publications/Electricity_and_Gas_Prices/

While the Eurostat data is publicly available up to the second half of 2012 the SEAI report for that period with its analysis as described above is not yet published.

Electricity and gas costs in Ireland are influenced by various drivers, including global gas and oil prices, the cost of capital, exchange rate fluctuations, the small size of the Irish market, geographical location and low population density. Global gas and oil prices are by far the most significant factor. Prices have risen sharply since the start of 2011, driven by events in the Middle East, north Africa and Japan and the significant growth in demand from China and India.

At a national level, the competitive energy market in place helps to put downward pressure on prices. In addition, we must focus on all possible additional actions to mitigate costs for business and domestic customers, including rigorous regulatory scrutiny of the network costs component of retail prices.

I am committed to working with enterprise and with the energy sector to ensure that the costs of energy are as competitive as possible. In this context, promotion of energy efficiency measures is an area within our control where action can be taken to reduce energy costs.

Energy efficiency represents a significant opportunity for both businesses and households to reduce their energy costs. There are energy efficiency measures in place to assist both business and domestic energy consumers, with significant funding allocated to them. The Energy Efficiency Fund, which I announced in February, will commence funding specific measures in the near future. It will assist energy efficiency projects in the public and commercial sectors.