ESB chief defends energy prices in Ireland

Pat O'Doherty also says he feels no State pressure to keep prices at a certain level...

ESB chief defends energy prices in Ireland

Picture by: Brian Lawless / PA Archive/Press Association Images

Pat O'Doherty, the CEO of the Electricity Supply Board (ESB), was in the Executive Chair on Saturday morning's Down to Business making the argument that energy prices in Ireland are competitively priced.

When presenter Bobby Kerr brought up the oft-mentioned complaint that the ESB is the most expensive electricity provider in Europe, O'Doherty spoke of the independent regulator's role and the competitive market dynamics from the nine market players as accounting for the current prices.

O'Doherty said:

"If you do the right comparisons, prices in Ireland are in and around [the Eurozone] average.

"So given everything about Ireland, and our physical location and economies of scale in Ireland, we've significantly more network because of our dispersed population than any other country in Europe.

"So given all of that and given where we are on the periphery of Europe, I actually believe that prices in Ireland are okay... For example, at residential level they're a couple of per cent below the Eurozone and for SMEs they're slightly above.

Last year, the ESB increased their profits 13% to €635 million, with the Government receiving a dividend of over €200 million. Despite being State-owned, O'Doherty said the ESB is under no huge pressure not to reduce prices.

"The profits we've turned in last year are in and around the kind of profit that we need to turn in every year to fund our business and service our debt".

Also in the interview, O'Doherty talked his background in engineering and career to date, the potential amalgamation of the grid between Ireland and the UK, and what the future holds for the ESB and renewable energy.

Hear it all here: