Thursday, 3 October 2019

Ceisteanna (287)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

287. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the rank of Ireland in the EU in terms of electricity and gas prices; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40464/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

Electricity and gas retail markets in Ireland are commercial, liberalised and competitive and operate within national and European regulatory regimes. Responsibility for the regulation of the electricity and gas markets is solely a matter for the independent regulator, the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU), which was assigned responsibility for the regulation of the Irish electricity market following the enactment of the Electricity Regulation Act, 1999, and subsequent legislation. The regulation of retail market prices for electricity in Ireland ended in 2011 and for gas prices in 2014. Price setting is wholly a commercial and operational matter for electricity suppliers with no regulatory approval involved. The Government is acutely aware of the financial challenges faced by families and businesses from electricity and gas prices, with the main thrust of Government policy on energy costs focused on the competitive market and the provision of supports for energy efficiency. Government policy has supported competition to drive down prices. Data from approved price comparison sites (www.bonkers.ie and www.switcher.ie) shows that consumers can make significant savings by switching energy suppliers in the competitive market. In addition, the Government has provided more than €100 million in capital funding for energy efficiency schemes in 2019.

The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) is the lead organisation for the submission of Irish data on electricity and gas prices to EUROSTAT, and publishes reports and analysis of these statistics twice yearly, which include Ireland’s EU ranking in terms of energy prices. The latest SEAI energy prices report covering July-December 2019 is available on the SEAI website at: https://www.seai.ie/publications/Price-Directive-2nd-Semester-2018.pdf

The latest SEAI report highlights that Ireland continues to have amongst the highest electricity and gas prices for household and business customers within the EU. While overall electricity costs are influenced by various drivers, Ireland’s elevated position in European rankings should be seen in the context of a number of drivers, including high reliance on imported fossil fuels for electricity generation, the small size of the Irish market, and a widely dispersed low density population that increases costs associated with electricity and gas transmission and distribution.