By Seán McCárthaigh
The energy regulator has expressed its concern about the plans of ESB to transfer senior executives into its retail business which may give the conglomerate an advantage over its retail energy rivals.
The Commission for the Regulation of Utilities (CRU) has warned there is potential risk of “market distortion and customer harm” over the proposed reassignment of four executives.
The transfers account for almost half of the ESB’s nine executive team.
The regulator said there was a risk of a senior executive transferring from ESB Networks to its retail business, who may have had access to information which could give Electric Ireland or other parts of its retail operations a competitive advantage over rival firms in areas such as smart metering.
Some transfers at the most senior level are subject to review by the CRU.
It said there was also a risk with executives switching from the retail side of ESB to the fully regulated and ring-fenced networks business as they might be able to make or influence decisions that could favour their former employer.
It has ordered the four individuals to stop using their existing IT accounts, including e-mails, with access to computer files being granted to their new IT accounts “only as required for the new roles”.
It has also required the ESB to maintain a register of all communications by the four executives with their previous division for a period of six months after taking up their new jobs.
The ESB approved a number of changes at senior management level in March as a result of an “organisational effectiveness review”.
The moves involved Marguerite Sayers, managing director of ESB Networks; Jim Dollard, executive director of Electric Ireland and Business Service Centre; Paddy Hayes, executive director of generation and wholesale Markets; and Paul Mulvaney, executive director of innovation.
Ms Sayers is being appointed executive director of customer solutions, while Mr Dollard will become executive director of generation and trading.
As part of the reshuffle, Mr Hayes will become managing director of ESB Networks Assets, with Paul Mulvaney becoming executive director of networks customer delivery.
Although the ESB has proposed a number of additional measures to allay the CRU’s concerns the regulator, said further measures were still necessary.