Deregulation of the domestic gas market closer still
The specific criteria for the deregulation of the domestic gas market are still to be met, according to Ireland’s independent energy regulator.
This is despite figures from March indicating that deregulation is not far away, although the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) has pushed back its estimates by another month to July 2014.
Forecasts using February figures had suggested that leading energy supplier Bord Gáis Energy would have a market share of below 55% by June 2014.
The threshold for deregulation stands at a market share of less than 55% without the firm rebranding, and under 60% if it rebrands – something that the CER has not received any notification on.
Without confirmation on a rebranding, Bord Gáis Energy remains above the 55% threshold as it had a 56.03% share of the market in March.
The CER has already said it will provide a notice period of one month to the market regarding any decision to deregulate, regardless of what decision Bord Gáis Energy reach. Currently, as with similar reports in the past months, the CER is working on the premise that deregulation of Bord Gáis Energy will not involve a rebrand.
Had the firm confirmed a rebrand then it would have already met the 60% market share threshold required in order to deregulate.
Other criteria also need to be met for that to occur, as a minimum of three suppliers are required – of which two must be non-Bord Gáis Energy suppliers – to hold a share of more than 10% of the retail gas market.
In March, SSE Airtricity and Electric Ireland fulfilled these criteria, claiming 17.25% and 21.08% of the gas market share respectively.
Meanwhile, Flogas Natural Gas has 5.17% of the overall market share. The final part of the criteria for deregulation requires customer-switching rates that exceed 10% on an annual basis.
According to the latest data, the annual switching rate between April 2013 and March 2014 was 16.67%, which fulfills the switching deregulation criteria.
This is calculated using average customer numbers of 633,831 and the total level of switching in the domestic market, recorded at 105,646.
Since the first quarter of 2011, Bord Gáis Energy has seen its domestic gas market share plummet from more than 80%, while other firms have seen their share rise dramatically.
The CER will continue to conduct monthly reviews analysing market competitiveness, with the next report published towards the end of May.