Active customers who switched or renegotiated their gas and electricity contracts every year for the last four years could have saved €670 on gas, €1,146 on electricity or €1,417 on their dual fuel costs, according to a report published by the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) today.
The annual Electricity and Gas Retail Market Report is part of the CRU’s ongoing market monitoring role to ensure that the Irish customer continues to benefit from a competitive energy market. It provides insights into consumer and supplier behaviour in the Irish energy market and highlights the sustained development of the Irish retail energy sector to support greater innovation and choice for consumers.
Customer switching remains a key indicator of retail competition and supplier activity within the retail market; in 2017 the switching rates in both electricity and gas markets were at 14% and 18% respectively. In addition to this, 8% of customers in both markets re-negotiated with their current supplier in 2017.
While not reaching 2014 and 2015 increase rates, the end of 2017 saw a significant increase in both wholesale electricity and gas prices. As a result, the average annual electricity bill across all suppliers’ plans increased on average by 6% while gas bills stay relatively the same as 2016 prices.
The report also showed that Electric Ireland remained the largest electricity energy provider in 2017, however, it was the first year the supplier moved below a 50% share (49.5% of total consumption) in the electricity market.
The Commissioner with responsibility for the Retail Markets, Aoife MacEvilly said
“The continued downward trend of market share of the largest supplier is a good indication that competition has continued to grow. While the recent price rises announced by suppliers will have an impact on customer bills, the data from this report shows that active consumers who either switch or renegotiate with their supplier could more than beat the recent price rises and still see a significant saving. Prices change regularly and the CRU encourages customers to shop around for the best deals every year. With now 12 active electricity suppliers and eight gas suppliers, there is choice for consumers to exercise their rights and switch on to what competition in the market place can do for them.”
2017 marks the first year that Electric Ireland moved below a 50% share in the electricity market. The Report highlighted two new suppliers (BeEnergy and Just Energy) came into the market in 2017, bringing the total number of suppliers in the domestic electricity market to 12 (up from five in 2013).
Electric Ireland held the greatest domestic electricity market share with 49.5% of total consumption. However, its market share decreased by 1.82% between 2016 and 2017 in terms of consumption. Bord Gáis Energy continued holding the second greatest market share by consumption in Q4 2017 with 17.8% followed by SSE Airtricity with 15.36%. The remaining key suppliers are Energia with 7.9%, PrePayPower with 5.9%, Panda with 1.5% and Pinergy with 1.4%.
The number of suppliers in the domestic gas market also increased with a new addition, JustEnergy, entering the market place. This brings the total number of gas suppliers to eight (up from four in 2013).
Bord Gáis Energy held the greatest market share in the domestic gas market with 47.2% of the market by customer numbers. This was followed by Electric Ireland with 21.3%, SSE Airtricity with 14.2%, Energia with 7% and Flogas with 5.6%.
The end of 2017 saw a significant increase in both wholesale electricity and gas prices, although these increases were still lower on average than 2014 and 2015. This was the predominant factor in seven suppliers announcing electricity price increases in Q4 of 2017.
At the end of 2017, for domestic electricity, Just Energy offered the cheapest standard plan with an estimated annual bill of €960.99*. Bord Gáis Energy offered the cheapest discount plan with an estimated annual bill of €810.93.
At the end of 2017 for domestic gas, Just Energy offered the cheapest standard plan with an estimated annual bill of €675.35. Flogas offered the cheapest discount plan with an estimated annual bill of €627.93.
At the end of 2017 for Domestic dual fuel, Energia offered the cheapest plan with an estimated annual bill of €1,455.11*.
Customer switching remains a key indicator of retail competition and supplier activity within the retail market. Prices change regularly and the CRU encourages customers to shop around for the best deals or contact their current supplier to see what offers are available.
Switching rates in both the electricity and gas markets are above 10%. Under the VasaETT description of the levels of switching, the electricity and gas markets are considered active and Ireland ranks well globally in terms of switching rates. Electricity average switching rate has remained steady at 14% over the last 4 years and gas switching increased to 18% which is a record high. 23% of switches were dual fuel and 8% of customers in both markets renegotiated with their current supplier.
*Estimated annual bills presented in this report are based on the revised typical annual consumption values of 4,200kWh for electricity and 11,000kWh for gas recently updated by the CRU.