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    TD claims to EU Commission that ESB keeping electricity prices artificially high


    May 17, 2022 - Charlie Weston

     

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

      The Fianna Fáil TD together with MEP for Ireland South Billy Kelleher met the commissioner last week in Strasbourg.

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

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      ‘I hoped to rebuild my life after death of my fiancé but fraudster tricked me out of €2,200’

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

      Only Germany, Denmark and Belgium are more expensive, figures from Eurostat show.

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

      Mr Cowen said: “During our meeting, we outlined the serious concerns we have about the market and how its dysfunctionality will impede Ireland’s ability to meet its renewable energy targets.

      “The dominant electricity provider in the country, ESB, has an effective monopoly in the wholesale sector.

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

      “The commissioner understood the Irish market very well and listened to our concerns. The official complaints process has been commenced from an energy point of view through the Agency for Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER).

      Mr Kelleher claimed Ireland’s ability to meet its future renewables targets is being jeopardised.

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

      “As well as engaging with the Energy Commissioner, we will also be seeking to meet with the Competition Commissioner, Margrethe Vestager.

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

      Asked for a comment, ESB said it has previously categorically rejected the allegations made and said it has provided factual evidence to refute them.

      “Furthermore, ESB’s Annual Report 2021, published in March, corroborated this position reflecting that energy [profit] margin for 2021 in Ireland for ESB’s wholesale generation business remained broadly in line with 2020.”

      The ESB spokesperson said the annual report also notes that ESB’s share of electricity generation in the island of Ireland market was 33pc last year.

      Analysis: Will an ECB rate rise tame inflation or just hurt growth?

      ‘I hoped to rebuild my life after death of my fiancé but fraudster tricked me out of €2,200’

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