Electricity is generated in Ireland from a number of sources such as gas, coal, oil and renewable souces. While gas is the main source, accounting for over half in 2007, generation from renewable sources is increasing.
The standard electricity voltage in Ireland is 230V a.c., nominal, at 50Hz, with plugs being of the 3 pin IS411 (BS 1363) type. If you are moving to Ireland or coming to Ireland on holiday, you should check any electrical appliances you wish to bring with you in advance to ensure that you can use them in Ireland.
The Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) regulates the electricity market and can deal with unresolved complaints. More information is available in our document on the regulator.
Electricity services in Ireland are provided by the Electricity Supply Board (ESB), a state body that is owned and controlled by the Government. ESB owns and manages the electricity network and operates 19 major power stations throughout Ireland and a number of smaller stations in 28 sites around the country.
In February 2000, as a result of EU directive 96/92/EC, the electricity market in Ireland was opened to competition. Larger customers using 4 gigawatt hours or more of power per year became free to choose their own electricity supplier. The retail electricity market opened fully to competition in February 2005.
In November 2007 a Single Electricity Market (SEM) came into effect with the trading of wholesale electricity in Ireland and Northern Ireland on an all-island basis.
All business markets were deregulated from October 2010. From April 2011, the domestic market is deregulated with all suppliers free to set their own tariffs.
The electricity transmission system, commonly known as the national grid, is a high voltage network for the transmission of bulk electricity supplies from the electricity generation sources to transformer stations around Ireland. EirGrid, an independent state-owned body, is the transmission system operator and is responsible for the operation, development and maintenance of the system. ESB Networks, a separate business unit within ESB, is the owner of the transmission system and is responsible for carrying out the maintenance and construction of the system.
The distribution network is the medium and low voltage electricity network used to deliver electricity from the transformer stations to connection points such as houses, offices, shops, and street lights, and is owned by ESB Networks. ESB Networks is also the distribution system operator and is responsible for building, maintaining and operating all the distibution level network infrastructure. This includes all overhead electricity lines, poles and underground cables. ESB Networks has responsibility to all electricity customers, irrespective of their supplier, for:
There are a number of electricity suppliers licenced by CER to supply electricity to retail customers. While competition between suppliers has developed successfully in the business end of the market, there has been a lack of competition in the domestic market.
ESB Electic Ireland (formerly called ESB Customer Supply), an independent business unit within ESB, operates as the Public Electricity Supplier. Under this licence, ESB Electric Ireland is required among other things:
Three schemes are available for customers with special needs:
Free Electricity Allowance
Some customers may be eligible for an Electricity Allowance. The Allowance is administered by the Department of Social Protection as part of the Household Benefits Package. The Department has a set of guidelines to determine who is eligible.
The Electricity Allowance does not cover the cost of installing an electricity supply in your home or the additional standing charges applicable to storage heating or a NightSaver meter. You must be the registered consumer of electricity for your home to qualify for the allowance.
Services for older people and people with disabilities
All suppliers of domestic customers are required to offer non-standard forms of communication to its customers. These forms include:
To avail of any of these, customers must register with the industry's Special Services Register. Application forms are available from your electricity supplier. The information you supply is also passed on to ESB Networks so it is aware of your need when contacting or visiting you.
Suppliers are also required to ensure that elderly customers who are registered with them are not cut off in the winter months (November - March) if they run into payment difficulties.
Medical register for customers with home medical equipment
A Priority Register exists for customers who depend on electrically powered equipment such as home dialysis machines, oxygen concentrators or artificial ventilators If you are on the register you are contacted in advance of a planned disruption in supply or as soon as an unplanned outage is discovered. Also, suppliers cannot request that you be cut off over payment issues. Application forms for the Priority Register are available from your supplier.
Suppliers are required to have codes of practice that protect customers. These cover such areas as:
Suppliers are also required to produce Customer Charters with guaranteed service levels for their customers. Information on codes pf practice is available here.
If you have a complaint you should contact your electricity supplier or ESB Networks as appropriate. ESB Networks deals with complaints about faulty meters, connection costs, emergencies, planned outages and delays in getting connected. Complain to your supplier if it is to do with changing supplier, closing your account (including when moving house) or costs included on your bill. Advice on making a complaint is available on the Commission for Energy Regulation's consumer website www.energycustomers.ie
If you are unable to resolve your complaint with your supplier or with ESB Networksyou can take your complaint to the Regulator. Information on the Regulator's complaints handling procedures is available here.
Except in cases where there is a special agreement to the contrary, the amount of electricity supplied to your home will be measured by a meter or meters and other apparatus supplied and installed by ESB Networks. This equipment remains the property of ESB Networks.
Only people authorised by ESB Networks are allowed to fix, connect, remove or work upon any meter, main fusebox, seal, electric line or other apparatus belonging to ESB Networks. In the event of unauthorised interference, (whether by the customer or otherwise), the ESB reserves the right to estimate the unrecorded consumption and to include the charges for the unrecorded consumption in the customer's account.
Electricity bills are issued every two months and are based on meter readings or estimations of electricity consumption. Readings can be actual readings obtained by the meter reader or readings submitted by the customer. An ESB Networks meter reader calls to your home to read the meter four times a year. When the meter reader fails to gain access to read the meter, he or she leaves a card inviting you to submit your meter reading online or to dial in the reading to a special number CallSave 1850 337 777. (This is an Interactive Voice Response System that is available 24 hours every day.) If a reading is not received within 48 hours, an estimated bill is issued.
Find advice on reading your meter here .
Your supplier is required to include a standard set of information on your bill. This includes the meter reading upon which the bill is based, the tariff category that applies and any levies that are being applied to the bill. You can read more about the information supplied on bills here.
Suppliers are required to offer a range of options to customers for paying their bills. You should contact you supplier to find out what option suits you.
The Commission for Energy Regulation previously regulated ESB Electic Ireland's (formerly called ESB Customer Supply) tariffs. From April 2011, ESB Electic Ireland, like the other suppliers, is free to set its own tariffs.
The Commission for Energy Regulation also regulates the charges associated with the electricity transmission and distribution networks. The tariffs include the cost of generating electricity, transmitting it through the electricity network, distributing and supplying to end customers.
To set up a new connection if you are moving into a house/apartment in a new housing/apartment scheme, you will need to apply to an electricity supplier for a domestic supply agreement. You should contact ESB Networks (Phone 1850 372 757) and supply them with the following information:
ESB Networks will complete the installation of your meter. The builder's electrician will switch on the electricity supply in your home.
If you are building your own home you will need to complete an ESB Networks New Connection Application Form NC2 (pdf) and send in a site location map (scale 1:1000, 1:2500 or 1:10560) and site plan (scale 1:100 - 1:500). You will also have to apply to an electricity supplier for a Domestic Supply Agreement. You can find out more about applying for a new connection on ESB Networks's website.
When you are leaving an address, you should take the meter reading, (agree the meter reading with the new owner/occupant if this is possible) contact your electricity supplier and give the supplier your meter reading. The meter reading will be used as the changeover reading, to close your account and open the new occupant's account.
If the house or apartment to which you are moving is new, you should contact your electricty supplier and ESB Networks as mentioned above.
If the house or apartment to which you are moving was previously occupied, you should take an ESB Meter Reading when you take over responsibility for the premises. Where possible, you should agree this reading with the departing occupier and apply to your supplier for a domestic supply agreement.
If the house has been disconnected for less than 2 years, you will need to apply to apply to your supplier for a domestic supply agreement. Your supplier will advise you about the reconnection process. If the house has been disconnected for more than 6 months you will also have to get the wiring checked and certified before it can be reconnected.
If the house has been disconnected for more than 2 years you will have to apply to ESB Networks for a new connection.
If you want to change supplier you should contact your new supplier with details of your meter number and a meter reading. You will be talked through the switching process by the supplier who will then process your application. More information on switching is available on the Regulator's consumer website.
Contact an electricity supplier or:
New connections/voltage queries/metering, etc.: Tel: 1850 372 757
Supply Failure/Emergencies (24 hour) Tel: 1850 372 999
Commission's consumer website: www.energycustomers.ie
If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.