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Irish Independent
Irish Independent
Charlie Weston Twitter Email

Fourth energy supplier leaves the Irish market as crisis deepens

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A FOURTH energy supplier is leaving the Irish market.

Panda Power, which has around 60,000 residential electricity and gas customers, is the latest victim of the energy crunch.

It comes after Spanish energy giant Iberdrola pulled out of the residential supply market here, and GlowPower and Bright Energy left.

The enormous surge in wholesale energy costs since the Russians invaded Ukraine have squeezed resellers like Panda, making it very difficult for them to make a return.

Panda Power only increased its electricity and gas prices in August. Electricity prices went up 12.7pc, and gas by 25.8pc.

It was Panda’s second price increase this year. It last raised its prices in May.

Last year it increased electricity prices five times and gas prices four times.

After the new price rises the average customer ended up paying about €2,500 a year for their electricity and €2,000 for their gas.

The company, which is part of the Beauparc Utility Group, only entered the energy supply business here in 2018. Beauparc changed hands for around €1bn last year.

Customers of the company are not going to lose supply.

The Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) will initiate the “supplier of last resort” procedure, which will see remaining electricity customers moved to Electric Ireland to ensure their supply is not interrupted.

Gas customers will be moved to Bord Gáis Energy.

There may be an opportunity for Panda customers to choose their own supply. But there is likely to be only days to do this.

If the customers are automatically moved to the suppliers of last resort they will be stuck on so-called standard tariffs for a number of weeks, which tend to be extremely expensive.

A spokesperson for the Commission for the Regulation of Utilities, said it was “engaging with an energy supplier in relation to their participation in the marketplace”.

Daragh Cassidy of price comparison site said the move was not surprising given the carnage on energy markets right now.

“Panda had no electricity generation assets so it was highly exposed to the rapidly rising price of gas and electricity on wholesale markets.”

He said Panda is now the fourth supplier to exit the Irish market in the space of a few months following GlowPower, Bright Energy, and Iberdrola.

“It’s likely more suppliers will fall over the coming months,” Mr Cassidy said.

He said the news puts paid to the populist narrative around placing a windfall tax on all energy companies.

It proves once again that many energy companies are actually struggling and that any windfall tax needs to be carefully considered and targeted to ensure it does not cause more carnage.

Panda’s waste recycling business, which is one of the largest waste collection companies in the State, imposed double-digit price rises on households this month.

Panda Recycling, which has 360,000 residential customers, increased the bin lift charges by more than 12pc and also hiking its service charges.

The company blamed a surge in the cost of diesel needed to fuel its trucks.

The Commission for Regulation of Utilities said it can “confirm that it has been engaging with a supplier in relation to their ongoing participation in the energy supply market.

"Where a supplier does seek to exit the market, the CRU engages the supplier of last resort process. Under this process, the CRU receives representations from the supplier that wishes to cease supply to customers and to exit the energy supply market(s) and the CRU makes a decision on whether to engage the Suppliers of Last Resort.

“Through this process, the CRU’s objective is to agree an appropriate timeline to protect customers interests in terms of their choice to switch supplier and to ensure the continuity of supply for affected customer through the Suppliers of Last Resort.

"Until these discussions have been concluded it is not possible for the CRU to provide any further details.”

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