TD claims to the EU Commission that the ESB keeps electricity prices artificially high

FORMER Agriculture Minister Barry Cowen has claimed to European Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson that the ESB is using its strong position in power generation in this market to keep electricity prices artificially high.

he Fianna Fáil TD along with MEP for Ireland South Billy Kelleher met the Commissioner in Strasbourg last week.

The meeting comes after it was revealed that households in this country are paying €250 more for their electricity every year compared to the EU average.

Electricity prices in Ireland are 26 per cent above the EU average and are the fourth most expensive in the bloc.

Only Germany, Denmark and Belgium are more expensive, according to Eurostat figures.

Mr Cowen told Commissioner Simson that he had major concerns about the functioning of the wholesale energy market in Ireland.

Mr Cowen said: “During our meeting we set out the serious concerns we have about the market and how its dysfunction will prevent Ireland from meeting its renewable energy targets.

“The country’s dominant electricity supplier, ESB, has a virtual monopoly in the wholesale sector.

“Their actions as a company I believe have the ability to keep electricity prices artificially high and shut out other renewable electricity suppliers in the country.

“The Commissioner understood the Irish market very well and listened to our concerns. From an energy point of view, the official complaints procedure was initiated by the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER).

Mr Kelleher claimed Ireland’s ability to meet its future renewable energy targets is at risk.

“We need a full, independent investigation at national and EU level,” he said after the meeting.

“In addition to working with the energy commissioner, we will also try to meet with the competition commissioner, Margrethe Vestager.

“In a sector that affects citizens so much, there can be no toleration of anti-competitive practices. Troubled families cannot afford to continue paying artificially high electricity prices to maintain ESB’s profit margins,” said Mr. Kelleher.

Asked for comment, ESB said it had previously categorically denied the allegations made and presented factual evidence to refute them.

“Furthermore, ESB’s 2021 Annual Report, released in March, reaffirmed this position, which reflects this energy [profit] 2021 margin in Ireland for ESB’s wholesale power generation business remained broadly at 2020 levels.”

The ESB spokesman said the annual report also notes that ESB’s share of electricity generation in the island of Ireland market last year was 33 per cent. TD claims to the EU Commission that the ESB keeps electricity prices artificially high

Fry Electronics Team

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