Wednesday, 2 May 2012
Question 13: To ask the Minister for Communications; Energy and Natural Resources if he is concerned at rising energy costs to families and businesses including home heating fuel and transport costs; if any initiatives are being taken by him and the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation to address these energy costs; his views on whether there is any link between the promotion of fracking and the current high energy costs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21710/12]
The Irish oil industry is fully privatised, liberalised and deregulated and there is free entry to the market. There is no price control on petroleum products. It has been the policy objective of successive Governments to promote price competition and consumer choice.
Previous surveys have shown that prices charged by Irish retailers for oil products correlate with the refinery price rather than to the price of crude oil. Prices at the pump reflect the volatile market price as well as transportation costs, trends in euro-dollar exchange rates and other operating costs, as well as the impact of taxation on oil products.
I have no statutory function in the setting of energy prices, whether in the regulated or non-regulated market. Responsibility for the regulation of the electricity and gas markets is a matter for the Commission for Energy Regulation, which is an independent statutory body.
Prices in the retail electricity market for both domestic and business customers are now fully deregulated, as are those for business customers in the retail gas market. Since last October, CER only regulates the gas price charged by Bord Gáis Energy to domestic consumers. Prices charged to electricity customers, domestic and business, and to business gas customers are wholly a commercial and operational matter for the energy suppliers.
I am committed to working with my colleague the Minister for Enterprise, Jobs and Innovation and with the business and energy sector to ensure the costs of energy for business are as competitive as possible. This includes working with SMEs as well as large energy users on energy efficiency measures which deliver cost savings and support competitiveness and jobs. I urge all businesses to engage with the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland to access the authority's energy efficiency support programmes.