ESB has announced operating profit of €357 million for the first six months of this year amid the growing energy crisis.
The ESB Group today published its interim financial statements for the six month to June 30, reporting an operating profit of €357m before exceptional items - a decrease of €6m on the same period in 2021.
The firm put the decrease down to regulated network tariff changes, losses incurred in ESB's Customer Solutions business and foreign exchange movements.
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However, it said higher energy margins that reflected increasing wholesale market prices mostly offset the loss in profit.
ESB said its generation and supply businesses are required to operate separately, so increased profits from ESB’s generation business cannot be used to offset costs incurred by Electric Ireland.
But it said profits are invested in critical networks, renewable generation and other important energy infrastructure, as well as used to pay tax and dividends to the Government and that over the past 10 years, ESB has invested more than €10 billion in energy infrastructure and paid over €1.2 billion in dividends.
ESB pointed out that it contributes €2 billion annually to the Irish economy through dividends, investments, taxes, and jobs.
It also said Electric Ireland is committed to helping customers during these difficult times by offering flexible payment options and by making available a €3 million Hardship Fund for customers who are experiencing payment difficulties at the coldest time of the year.
Commenting on the results, Geraldine Heavey, ESB’s Chief Financial Officer, said: "Volatility and high wholesale market prices continue to be a feature of energy markets in 2022.
"In the first six months of 2022, ESB delivered an operating profit before exceptional items of €357 million and capital investment of €532 million.
"This provides the basis for continued strong investment in energy infrastructure to decarbonise electricity, improve resilience and empower customers in line with our 2040 Net Zero Strategy."
Describing the figures as "obscene", Sinn Fein spokesperson on Climate Action, Darren O'Rourke, today called on Minister Eamon Ryan to stop sitting on his hands and act to address the crippling energy prices households and businesses are facing.
The Meath East TD said: "Businesses are on the brink of closure and households are living in fear of the next bill, so people will be understandably livid to hear the ESB is making €2m profit per day while also hiking prices at Electric Ireland.
"The Government has a number of options to tackle the underlying issues contributing to the out-of-control electricity costs, but so far they have done nothing.
"In fact, when EU proposals to decouple gas from electricity prices came before the European Energy Council in October 2021, Minister Ryan actively opposed reform.
"Since then, other countries have taken unilateral action, but Minister Ryan seems to be just crossing his fingers that Europe comes up with a solution soon for him.
"Currently, the ESB is not permitted to use group profits to limit, freeze or decrease prices at Electric Ireland. Given the scale of the crisis this is something that must be urgently changed. The rule book was not designed for the current emergency.
"People are also rightly asking why renewable energy producers here are permitted to sell renewable generated electricity for the same price as gas generated electricity.
"While renewable energy projects contracted under the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme are required to refund the excess price they are getting for their electricity via the PSO, this is not the case for the vast majority of renewables here.
"Most of our wind, solar, hydro and biogas projects are contracted under the older Renewable Energy Feed-in Tariff (REFIT) schemes, which allows these companies to keep the difference in the market price they are selling electricity for, versus the original price in their contract. This is resulting in huge profits for these energy companies.
"A legislative change could cap this price and ensure these renewable energy generators sell electricity at their actual affordable contracted rate.
"Sinn Féin has also called for a price cap on electricity to be introduced, to give families reassurance this winter. We have been calling for a windfall tax for months now.
"The Minister clearly has a host of options at his disposal, so he needs to stop treating energy companies with kid gloves. He needs to stop sitting on his hands and take action now to help households and businesses."
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