I propose to take Questions Nos. 377 and 378 together.
The regulatory framework for the Irish electricity market is mainly contained in the Electricity Regulation Act, 1999, as amended. This has been amended inter alia to reflect successive EU energy regulation legislative packages. In this regard, the EU Energy acquis, including the recently negotiated Clean Energy Package, continues to shape the design, operation and regulation of the Irish electricity and gas wholesale and retail markets.
In line with those packages, responsibility for the regulation of the electricity and gas markets in Ireland is solely a matter for the statutory independent energy regulator, the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU), which was assigned responsibility for the regulation of the electricity market following the enactment of the Electricity Regulation Act, 1999.
Consistent with European energy regulation policy, the electricity and gas markets in Ireland are commercial, liberalised, and competitive. The CRU ended its regulation of retail market prices for electricity in 2011 and for gas in 2014. The position of successive Governments is that competitive energy markets result in greater choice for consumers and businesses, in terms of suppliers, products and prices. Government policy on energy costs is focused on supporting the competitive market to drive down prices and supports for energy efficiency. Data from approved price comparison sites, Bonkers.ie, Switcher.ie and Power to Switch.ie show that consumers can make significant savings by switching energy suppliers. A reversion to regulatory electricity and gas retail market price controls would not be consistent with either national or EU energy regulatory policy. Accordingly any such proposals for the CRU in that regard are not being considered.
As part of its statutory functions, including under SI 630/2011, the CRU carries out various market monitoring and reporting functions in association with its responsibility to ensure that the market operates competitively for the benefit of the consumer. Under the SI, the CRU may take actions that it considers necessary to ensure that final customers benefit from competition in the supply of electricity and gas. It also published two reports in this regard in 2017, in line with an action in the 2015 Energy Policy White Paper. The first report was a consumer focussed assessment of the development of competition in retail markets and its impact on prices . The CRU then followed up with an analysis of energy supply costs to understand the drivers for changes in supply costs and increase transparency around these costs.
As the Deputy is aware, the CRU is accountable to a committee of the Oireachtas for the performance of its functions.