Consumers are increasingly switching gas and electricity supplier and are making “large savings” as a result.
The Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) annual electricity and gas retail market report for 2016 shows that between 2015 and 2016, competition in the sector and lower wholesale prices led to lower retail prices for Irish consumers.
In 2016, just under 318,000 people switched electricity supplier — up from just over 303,000 the previous year. Switching remained above the 20,000 level per month mark throughout the year, while the average switching rate in 2015 was 13.53%. This rate compares well internationally and is indicative of an active market.
The number of switches completed in the gas market in 2016 was 93,434, down from 106,862 in 2015. In 2016, more than 196,800 electricity customers and 46,577 gas customers renegotiated a new contract or tariff from their current suppliers.
In terms of the electricity market, Energia offered the cheapest available discount plan at the end of 2016, with an annual average bill of €770. The cheapest available standard plan came from Bord Gáis Energy at an average of €945 a year.
In the domestic gas market, Flogas offered the cheapest available discount plan for gas at the end of 2016 with an annual average bill of €626.51. Electric Ireland offered the cheapest available standard plan with an annual average bill of €735.11.
In terms of market share, Electric Ireland held the greatest domestic electricity market share with 51.35% of total consumption in the final four months of last year. However, its market share decreased by 3.36% between 2015 and 2016 in terms of customer numbers.
Energia gained the most market share between the last quarter of 2015 and last quarter of 2016, with an increase of 1.71% of market share.
SSE Airtricity lost 1.35% of market share by consumption in the same period.
Bord Gáis Energy held the greatest market share in the domestic gas market with 50.97% of the market by customer numbers but also experienced the greatest loss of any supplier with a 0.29% drop in market share. In terms of market share, the next largest supplier was Electric Ireland with 22.75%, SSE Airtricity with 14.27%, Energia with 5.86% and Flogas with 5.74%.
The CER director of energy markets, Laura Brien, said the increasing number of switching consumers were the people gaining the most out of the market.
“In terms of market share, we are pleased to see that competition in the deregulated market is continuing to show a greater spread of customers across the original incumbent suppliers in both gas and electricity and new suppliers that have entered the market,” she said.
Mark Whelan of Bonkers.ie said while the switching figures “look big in isolation”, in reality, they mean that “almost 86% of Ireland’s energy customers are missing out on savings”.
“With the energy retail market now fully deregulated, there is significant competition between Ireland’s nine suppliers. Add falling wholesale prices into the mix, and you get a situation where switching is a really smart way to take advantage of lower prices and special offers,” he said.
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