August / September 1999

Ireland: Electricity liberalisation begins

01 August 1999

The electricity market in Ireland is beginning to change. The changes are driven by the need to comply with the requirements of Directive 96/92/EC. While some of the legislation required to implement this change has already been introduced, a number of important issues remain to be resolved. These include: ownership of the national grid, the establishment of an independent manager of the national grid and the charges to be paid for use of the national grid. One of the Electricity Commission’s express obligations under the legislation is to have regard to the need to promote competition. The Competition Authority has a general jurisdiction to apply Irish competition law in all sectors of the economy. There is therefore a risk that the two agencies will take conflicting actions in relation to a given competition problem in the electricity sector. Such conflicts have already arisen in relation to actions taken by the Competition Authority and the Director of Telecommunications Regulation in the telecoms sector.