CRU Publishes Electricity and Gas Retail Markets Annual Report 2018 and Reminds Energy Customers to Shop Around

CRU Publishes Electricity and Gas Retail Markets Annual Report 2018 and Reminds Energy Customers to Shop Around
  • Active customers who switched or renegotiated every year for the last 4 years could have saved €704 on gas, €1,097 on electricity or €1,696 on their dual fuel costs
  • 7 suppliers announced energy price increases in 2018, driven by higher wholesale costs. The average increase was 5% for electricity and 13% for gas for a standard pricing plan
  • CRU calls for energy customers to be active, switching suppliers or re-negotiating with their current supplier, in order to avail of better deals 
  • Supplier switching rates by consumers were robust in 2018, with 14% of electricity customers and 20% of gas customers switching supplier during the year. October 2018 saw 8-year high in switching rates for gas and November 2018 saw a 7-year high in switching rate for electricity

The annual Electricity and Gas Retail Market Report is part of the CRU’s market monitoring role to help 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.

Switching remains a key indicator of retail competition and supplier activity within the retail market and a way for customers to make possible savings. Active customers who switched or renegotiated every year for the last 4 years could have saved €704 on gas, €1,097 on electricity or €1,696 on their dual fuel costs. Savings made through switching suppliers or negotiating with current supplier could help customers beat the recent prices increases.

In 2018, 14% of all electicity customers and 20%, a new record, of all gas customers switched supplier; 29% of these switches were dual fuel. October 2018’s gas switching rates were recorded at an 8-year high, with a 7-year high electricity switching rate reported for November 2018.

A key factor in these increases in switching figures was the implementation of new consumer protection measures included by the CRU in 2017 in the Supplier Handbook, which sets the standards to which all suppliers must adhere to in their dealings with customers.

These included an annual prompt where suppliers must notify customers who have been on the same energy tariff for three years (or more) of other energy offers that may be available to them. In addition to that, suppliers are now required to give customers 30 Days’ Notice prior to the end of the customer’s fixed-term contract. Suppliers also must provide an Estimated Annual Bill in their marketing and advertising to provide customers with an easy to understand, transparent metric by which they can compare offers from different suppliers, and therefore make the decision to move to a more advantageous supplier offering.

Other factors that may have had an impact on the switching figures were the CRU’s consumer awareness campaign, #SwitchOn as well as the main driver of consumers looking for better value and switching to discounted tariffs due to wholesale electricity price increases.

The Commissioner with responsibility for the Retail Markets, Aoife MacEvilly said

The CRU aims to facilitate empowered and protected consumers, paying reasonable prices. We are pleased to see that some of our regulatory measures appear to be helping customers be more active, including the new “Estimated Annual Bill” which helps compare offers and the “30 Day Notice” reminders when your current deal is about to expire. In total 24% of electricity customers and 29% of gas customers looked for a better energy plan in 2018 through either switching supplier or renegotiating with their current supplier. The CRU also asked customers to switch on to their rights, savings and safety through our #Switch On campaign and we hope to continue this in 2019.”

 

Energy Prices

On average the wholesale price of both gas and electricity was 33% higher in 2018 compared to 2017, with much of this increase occurring towards the end of the year. This was the predominant factor in seven suppliers announcing energy price increases in 2018. Overall, in 2018, customer electricity prices increased by 5% and customer gas prices by 13%.

At the end of 2018, BEenergy offered the cheapest available standard electricity plan with an Estimated Annual Bill (EAB) of €964.59.* Energia offered the cheapest available discount plan for electricity at the end of 2018 with an EAB of €839.91.

At the end of 2018, Just Energy offered the cheapest available standard plan for gas with an EAB of € 776.09.* Flogas offered the cheapest available discount plan for gas at the end of 2018 with an EAB of €699.38.

At the end of 2018, for domestic dual fuel Energia offered the cheapest discounted plan with an EAB of €1,533.42.*

 

Switching

In 2018, the electricity supplier switching rate by customers was 14% and the equivalent gas switching rate was 20%. This is the highest annual gas switching rate recorded to date. Of total switches, 29% were dual fuel switches.

According to the 2018 CEER Retail Markets Monitoring Report, in 2017 Ireland had the fourth highest external switching rate for electricity household customers of 15%, while in gas it had the second highest external switching rate of 18% for household customers across European countries reported on.

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.

 

Market Share

The energy markets are generally becoming more competitive, with many active suppliers.  Electric Ireland held the greatest domestic electricity market share with 48.16% of total consumption. Bord Gáis Energy continued holding the second greatest market share by consumption in Q4 2018 with 18.43% followed by SSE Airtricity with 13.58%; Energia with 8.91%; PrePayPower with 6.46%; Panda with 2.31%; and Pinergy with 1.39%.

In Q4 2018 Bord Gáis Energy held the greatest market share in the domestic gas market with 45.39% of the market by customer numbers. This was followed by Electric Ireland with 21%; SSE Airtricity with 13.15%; Energia with 8.31%; and Flogas with 3.75%.

*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

The full Electricity and Gas Retail Markets Annual Report 2018 is available here