20 Aug 2022

ESB should cease 'price gouging' on energy charges, Dáil hears

ESB should cease 'price gouging' on energy charges, Dáil hears

The Dáil has heard that ESB is making "super'normal profits" from the Irish energy market, due to a lack of competition. 

Speaking in the Dáil, Fianna Fail's Barry Cowen said the dominance of the semi-state body has allowed it sell power into the wholesale market at ten times the normal value, which he said was in turn driving up costs for households. 

He said an independently commissioned report shows that there has been a €250 million increase in the price of electricity for consumers in three months until the end of September because the ESB has orchestrated and extracted super-normal profits.

"I have no doubt that the ESB has used the shortage of generation capacity and its dominant place in the marketplace to increase tenfold the wholesale price of power, which has resulted in higher prices for consumers over and above the escalating costs applying to the rest of Europe," Deputy Cowen said. 

He said there are a number of factors at play in the rising fuel costs. "But Ireland also has a generation supply crisis caused by failure to plan for adequate new generation capacity. 

"I am calling on the energy minister Eamon Ryan to order the ESB to cease price gouging in the market and instruct the regulator to commission new generation from other suppliers to ensure adequate supply and competition in the market place," Deputy Cowen said. 

"As a power generator the ESB has a right to set the price it pitches to the wholesale market.

"However, in the absence of large-scale alternative energy generators and when, for example, wind power is not playing a significant role, the ESB demand price becomes the wholesale price and energy supply companies have no choice but to pay," Deputy Cowen said.

Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications  Eamon Ryan was unable to be present, but Minister of State Damien English said he would bring the issues raised to his attention.  

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