Wholesale electricity prices and other costs, such as regulated network costs and government levies and taxes contribute to the overall price that electricity customers pay.
Electricity generators and suppliers plan their purchases of fuel and wholesale electricity ahead (typically over a period of up to 24 months) to offer customers stable and predictable prices:
- There is considerable variability in the price of gas and consequently in the wholesale price of electricity. Were these fuel price variations to be passed on to final prices it would result in considerable uncertainty for customers.
- As the price on a given day does not reflect the cost of delivering electricity to a customer on that day, it normally takes a period of time for sustained fuel price changes (increases and decreases) to feed through to the electricity price charged to customers.
- Electricity and gas customers are able to purchase their energy from a range of different suppliers and the industry has invested heavily over recent years in promoting competition. The Irish market is now among the most active in the world in terms of customer switching activity.
- The price paid by consumers also depends on the degree to which the energy market design promotes effective competition.
Energy firms are actively engaged on a number of fronts to help customers to understand and manage their energy costs.
The Energy Engage Code aims to reduce disconnections of customers in arrears on their electricity or gas bills to an absolute minimum. The key measure to deliver this is a commitment by suppliers signed up to the Code (Bord Gais Energy, Electric Ireland, Energia, Flogas and SSE Airtricity) to never disconnect an engaging customer.