Energy networks are made up of thousands of kilometres of pipelines and wires that transmit gas and electricity to customers throughout the country.
Energy networks operate at two levels – transmission and distribution. Transmission networks comprise the high voltage and high pressure lines. Distribution networks comprise the low voltage and low pressure lines
Energy networks are natural monopolies, a natural monopoly exists when the most efficient number of companies providing a service is one. For example, it would not make sense to build two separate electricity networks that compete against each other for the same customers. This would drive electricity customers’ bills up and electricity customers would essentially be paying for two separate electricity networks instead of one.
The CRU has an important role in regulating the activities of natural monopolies to protect customers’ interests and to maintain security of supply, the CRU do this in the following way:
- Licensing energy network companies to ensure they are regulated in line with legislative requirements.
- Ensuring that all investment in networks is efficient and delivers the best outcome for customers.
- Ensuring that network connections and access meets the systems’ needs, while also supporting the delivery of national targets.
- Using our powers to monitor and address any behaviour or practices which may have an adverse effect on the way that markets and networks function.
To enhance Ireland’s security of supply, Ireland’s energy networks are physically connected to other countries’ systems via interconnectors, which allows for the transfer of energy across borders.
Licences and holders: Companies must hold a licence issued by the CRU to distribute electricity or gas through the energy network. The licences contain conditions which, among other things, limit the amount of revenue which the regulated network companies can recover from their customers. The current network licence holders in Ireland are: ESB Networks (electricity distribution network operator and owner), EirGrid (electricity transmission network operator), and Gas Networks Ireland (gas network owner and operator). For more information on the current licences please see the Compliance and Enforcement section of our website. Other licences cover generation, suppliers and shippers and can be found in the licensing section of our website.