September 20, 2023
Government and Regulator must end energy market chaos and ensure that Ireland is in line with rest of Europe – Darren O’Rourke TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson for the environment and climate action has called on government and the Commission for the Regulation of Utilities (CRU) to urgently address Ireland’s high energy prices, which make us an outlier in Europe.

Commenting the Central Bank’s Quarterly Economic Bulletin, the Meath East TD said:

“In yet another shocking indictment of this government’s performance, this news confirms what we have known for some time – that Ireland’s energy market is not sufficiently regulated. As a result, ordinary Irish workers and families continue to be crippled by sky-high energy bills while prices fall all over Europe. This is simply not good enough.

“Speaking to the Budgetary Oversight Committee today, the Central Bank’s Director of Economics and Statistics made it clear that this was due to the failure of energy provider to pass on wholesale price reductions in the cost of electricity. He also pointed to the fact that when consumer energy prices rose they did so in lock step with Europe but reductions have failed to keep pace. Prices have generally remained sky high.

“The reason for this, we are told, is because of the so called ‘hedging practices’ of energy firms. However, the reality is that the CRU have no oversight over such hedging practices. We have no idea if there is anti-competitive behaviour taking place, as the ERSI suggested it might be in June.

“The government are continuing to bury their head in the sand, acting as mere commentators while energy companies run rough-shod over consumers. Let’s not forget that ESB recorded record breaking profits today of €676 million.

“Sinn Féin has a decisive plan to deal with this via our legislation to make sure that the CRU is fit for purpose; that is has the regulatory teeth to oversee hedging practices and to monitor and sanction possible instances of anti-competitive behaviour. We also want to see increased transparency and consumer protection, with a specific mandate to consider energy affordability in the CRU’s policy direction.

“With Winter fast approaching, the government would be wise to recognise that Sinn Féin are not the only ones ringing the alarm bells; these calls are getting louder and more numerous. It’s high time they listened.”

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