ESB subsidiary Electric Ireland snapped up the biggest share of customers who changed supplier in June ahead of the last round of energy prices, the latest figures show.
The Commission for the Regulation of Utilities (CRU) published a report at the weekend showing that a record 45,518 electricity customers in the Republic switched supplier in June, 72 per cent more than during the same month in 2021, when the total was 26,443.
More than 36,000 electricity customers a month, on average, changed supplier in the first half of this year as homes and businesses sought better deals in the face of rising prices. The comparable figure for last year was 26,318.
According to the CRU, Electric Ireland, part of State-owned energy group ESB, and the largest player in the Irish market, gained most from the high number of customers switching supplier in June. The company gained 21,166 customers during the month. Rival Energia added 1,206 while Prepaypower added 562.
Bord Gáis Energy lost 1,772 customers, Panda Power, which has since said it is leaving the market, shed 1,463 accounts while SSE Airtricity lost 241.
The CRU report covers June, before most suppliers began announcing a fresh round of price increases in late summer and early autumn.
Within the totals, the figures show that 6,292 customers switched from Electric Ireland to another supplier in June, while an extra 27,458 people signed up with the State-owned company.
Energia added a total of 4,799 new customers in June but lost 3,593, the commission’s figures show. Prepaypower gained 1,893 customers while 1,277 existing clients moved elsewhere.
Bord Gáis Energy signed up 4,035 customers in June, while it lost 5,807. SSE Airtricity lost 4,004 customers while 3,763 moved to that company.
Electric Ireland is the biggest supplier in the Republic, with more than one million customers or about 40 per cent of the total market. It has been one of the slowest suppliers to put up prices in response to rises in wholesale electricity costs.
Companies now offer different charges and deals to customers based on the length of time for which they sign up, the amount of electricity they are likely to use and other factors.
Observers say that energy companies now offer lower discount rates than they did before prices began rising last year.
Daragh Cassidy, head of communications with price comparison website Bonkers.ie, noted at the weekend that discount rates had fallen to as little as 10 per cent from as much as 40 per cent before the current wave of increases began in mid-2021.
As prices have risen so much since 2021, the actual saving in euro remains roughly the same, according to Mr Cassidy.
Irish electricity prices, already among Europe’s highest, began rising rapidly last year as the cost of natural gas, a key generation fuel, soared on world markets. Russian state company Gazprom’s decision to cut European supplies through the Nordstream pipeline this year aggravated the problem.
Gas prices eased last week as it emerged that Europe had filled most of its storage capacity for this winter, while the EU began efforts to combat increases. The EU has not agreed on a price-capping system as some member states, including the Republic, cautioned against this in case it deterred some suppliers.
However, the EU is working on a collective gas-buying system meant to cut out inflationary competition between member states.