Wednesday, 7 March 2012
Question 9: To ask the Minister for Communications; Energy and Natural Resources when the independent assessment of the efficiency of the Irish electricity and gas sectors will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12864/12]
The EU-IMF-ECB memorandum of understanding in the programme of financial support for Ireland included the requirement that an independent assessment of the electricity and gas sectors, taking due account of the EU regulatory context for the sectors, be commenced by the end of September 2011. The International Energy Agency, IEA, is completing its periodic in-depth review of Irish energy policy. The agency reviews the energy policy of every member country every four to five years. On this occasion, at my request, its review has included an assessment of the efficiency of the Irish electricity and gas sectors, as required under the troika memorandum. The review commenced in September 2011 in line with the memorandum of understanding requirement. My Department received an advance confidential copy of the assessment in January.
The in-depth review of all aspects of Ireland's energy policy is being completed by the IEA and will encompass the independent assessment of the efficiency of the electricity and gas sectors. The IEA advises that the date of publication of the review is mid-year.
Informed by the IEA advance assessment, my Department, in conjunction with the regulator, is developing proposals for the Government's consideration on further action required to enhance the regulatory and market framework this year, in line with the further requirement in the latest memorandum of understanding with the troika to do so by the end of June 2012. The memorandum of understanding requirement in this regard states actions to further enhance the regulatory and market reform programme will be taken in consultation with European Commission services. The aim is to increase efficiency, improve governance, strengthen competition and improve the energy sector's ability to contribute towards addressing Ireland's financing needs and enhancing growth potential and economic recovery. Compliance with all relevant EU energy legislation, notably the third internal energy package, is a key part of the ongoing work.
While the review is ongoing, it is important that a component of the report states that for the end-consumer efficiencies and the achievement of value for money should result in lower unit prices and standing charges. In that context, will the Minister confirm if the report will be published in its entirety? Perhaps I missed it, but did he give an exact date for its publication?
As I said to the Deputy, the part of the report given to me was provided in confidence by the International Energy Agency. The particular caveat entered reads:
For the internal use of the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources only. No external transmission, disclosure, re-publication, reproduction or other use of this publication or any portion thereof may be made without the prior written approval of the IEA.
The total review is to be concluded by mid-year. I cannot think of any reason the report would not be published in full.