Irish consumers best at changing energy suppliers

Irish consumers top the European table when it comes to switching electricity and gas providers, as energy prices fell last year.

According to the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) annual electricity and gas retail market report for 2015, a total of 106,682 customers switched gas supplier in 2015 — the highest switching rate in the EU in the EU.

A total of 303,187 customers switched electricity in 2015 — the second highest in Europe after Portugal.

The CER said that consumers stood to save up to €360 on their energy bills by switching to discounted offers throughout 2015.

The report shows there was an overall decrease in prices for both standard and discounted plans for electricity and gas customers — with electricity prices falling by up to 4.6% and gas prices falling by up to 5%.

The largest reduction in the standard electricity tariff was offered by PrePayPower, while in the gas market, the largest reductions were offered by BGE and Flogas.

There were losses of market share for the leading suppliers in both the domestic electricity and gas markets last year, indicating greater competition in the Irish market.

Electric Ireland remained the largest supplier in the domestic electricity market in terms of customer numbers and consumption but saw its overall market share reduce by 1.61 percentage points (pp) to 54.71%.

Energia gained the most during that period in terms of consumption for domestic electricity with a 1.22pp increase to an overall market share of 4.42%.

Energia showed the greatest gain in the gas market, increasing its market share by 1.89pp to 4.08% between 2014 and 2015. Flogas also increased its customer base by 0.94pp to 5.78%.

The greatest loss in market share was by SSE Airtricity, which reduced by 2.4pp to 14.2%. Bord Gáis Energy, the supplier with the largest market share, saw a decrease of 0.77pp to 51.26%.

Disconnections for non-payment fell significantly in 2015 compared to 2014 with a year-on-year reduction from the peak years of 2011 and 2012. Electricity disconnections fell by 11% in electricity to 7,783 and 12% in gas to 3,542. Many of these related to vacant premises.

CER Commissioner with responsibility for the retail sector, Aoife MacEvilly said consumers had a key role to play when it came to driving down energy bills.

“The shift in market share across energy suppliers demonstrates that suppliers must continue to do more to attract new customers and retain existing customers, or else they face losing out,” she said. “Active consumers play the most important role in driving competition, encouraging innovation and forcing down energy bills.”

Meanwhile, MEP Seán Kelly welcomed a vote in the European Parliament in Brussels backing lower energy costs for consumers.

“In 2014, Irish consumers were paying the third highest electricity bills in the EU, after Germany and Denmark,” said Mr Kelly. “It is important to note that the high cost of electricity in Germany and Denmark is due to taxes, levies and VAT. Ireland has below average EU costs for these add-ons, so we effectively have the highest basic electricity price in the EU.”


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