The CER – The Commission for Energy Regulation
The Commission for Energy Regulation (CER), is an independent body that regulates the electricity and natural gas sectors in Ireland and aims to act in the interests of energy customers.
What is the CER?
The CER aims to ensure that both electricity and gas sources are available and that the prices charged are both fair and reasonable.
They also wish to ensure that electricity and gas is supplied in a safe fashion and in a way that does not harm the environment.
Originally set up in 1999, the role of the CER has expanded over time to work within both the national and EU energy policies – all designed to create a single European electricity market.
The Single Electricity Market (SEM) went live in the latter part of 2007 and aims to create a sustainable retail electricity market.
Following the Gas Interim Regulation Act in 2002, the CER also took on a role as regulator of the national gas sector – prior to this it had dealt solely with issues regarding electricity.
More recent legislation has also been taken into account, meaning the organisation complies with all current laws and statutes.
The CER looks to promote competition in the sectors and licence electricity and natural gas companies on a fair and equitable basis.
Why does the CER exist?
Energy supply and prices are highly volatile in both the gas and electricity markets, so an organisation is required to protect the interests of companies and customers.
Ensuring protection for the disadvantaged and elderly is important as it prevents companies from taking advantage of the vulnerable.
It is also important to make sure that processes are carried out in a safe and ethical manner, as the process of transporting energy can be dangerous.
The Commission for Energy Regulation looks to ensure that supply processes are regulated so that the safety of those within the companies concerned is not compromised.
Making sure a constant supply is available and being delivered to all parts of the country helps to keep the economy stable and the country moving.
What powers and responsibilities does the CER have?
The CER oversee the electricity generation and retail markets to encourage the entry of new investment and greater levels of competition.
As a responsibility, this means that processes and procedures are in place for all electricity suppliers and the CER must regulate these accordingly.
The CER will also look to provide guidance to those in the sector that can aid the development of it – all with customer interests in mind.
Once the retail electricity market opened to competition in the early part of 2005, independent companies had the chance to supply customers all across the country.
Now they account for around half of the total supply and the CER looks to ensure that these companies continue to operate ethically when it comes to pricing. Business markets were deregulated in 2010 while the domestic market followed a year later – meaning suppliers can charge what they want for their tariffs.
The Public Service Obligation (PSO) Levy is an additional charge relating to the costs of renewable, sustainable and alternative forms of energy purchased under government schemes. The levels of costs each year are approved by the CER, who are responsible for calculating the levy in accordance with legislation, while ensuring that the costs are accurate.
When it comes to the gas sector, the CER is in place to introduce, facilitate and promote competition in the electricity and gas markets.
Since 2007 when the Irish gas market was opened up to competition, more than half a million customers have had the option to switch.
The CER’s aim is to ensure that the customer can benefit from increased choice, greater efficiency, lower prices and higher standards of service.
The Gas Market Retail Advisory Group provides feedback and recommendations to the CER in a bid to make this possible, while the CER is responsible for approving the final arrangements.
Renewable energy is also very important to both the electricity and gas sectors and the CER is also responsible for promoting renewable forms of energy.
How does the CER affect me?
As the energy market regulator, The Commission for Energy Regulation is a body that stands between energy suppliers and customers.
They ensure that energy suppliers comply to a certain set of standards and that the required social and environmental obligations are fulfilled.
The CER will also ensure that energy companies interact with customers – whether new or existing – in the correct fashion and can act in instances of non-compliance.
This means companies found mis-selling energy can be reprimanded and consumers can receive better deals as a result.