Section 10A of the Electricity Regulation Act sets out the procedure under which a policy direction may be issued to the Commission for Regulation of Utilities, CRU. The legislation sets out details of the tasks and, inter alia, restrictions, timelines and consultation requirements with the independent regulator and the Oireachtas.
Energy markets in Ireland operate within a European regulatory regime in which member states must guarantee the independence of national regulatory authorities which are expressly forbidden from taking direct instructions from government. The regime also restricts policy directions in the form of general policy guidelines in certain areas that are prescribed regulatory duties and powers in the European Union's third energy package. A policy direction in this matter, therefore, is not being considered. Consistent with European energy policy, the electricity and gas markets in Ireland are commercial, liberalised and competitive. The position of successive Governments has been that competitive energy markets result in greater choice of suppliers, products and prices for consumers and businesses.
The regulation of retail market prices for electricity and gas in Ireland ended in 2011 and 2014, respectively. The thrust of Government policy on energy costs is focused on the competitive market and supports for energy efficiency. Government policy has supported competition to drive down prices and data from approved price comparison sites show that consumers can make significant savings by switching energy suppliers.
The CRU has a statutory market monitoring function in the electricity and gas markets and is solely accountable for the performance of its functions to the Joint Committee on Communications, Climate Action and Environment.