Making a difference in energy supply
We report on SSE's performance in Ireland's Retail Energy Supply market following today's announcement by SSE plc of its preliminary results for the year to 31 March.
SSE is one of the largest energy suppliers in the competitive markets in Great Britain and in Ireland. At 31 March 2015, it supplied electricity and gas to 8.58 million household and business accounts. It also provides other energy-related products and services to 350,000 household and business customers.
As an energy and essential services supplier, the principal purpose of the Retail business is to meet the needs of its customers in a reliable and sustainable way; in doing so, it is focused on attracting and retaining customers by offering industry-leading customer service, value for money and strong energy and non-energy propositions under a recognised and differentiated brand.
SSE's retail brand SSE Airtricity is the second largest energy provider in Ireland and the only energy supply brand to operate in all of the competitive gas and electricity markets across the island. At 31 March 2015, SSE Airtricity supplied electricity and gas to 802,000 household and business accounts in the Republic of Ireland (ROI) and Northern Ireland (NI).
In addition to being the largest single provider of wind power in the all-island Single Electricity Market (SEM), with 40% of the electricity it supplies coming from renewable sources, SSE Airtricity is also a market-leader in award-winning digital service with around 65% of all customer interactions performed via the company's online, digital and mobile platforms.
Highly competitive market conditions, in particular in the Republic, which has seen the emergence of new domestic market entrants in the deregulated gas and electricity markets, led to a reduction in SSE Airtricity customer numbers in the first half of the year. The launch of its new brand campaign in October marked a return to growth, however, and by year end SSE Airtricity continued to have an all-island share by customer numbers of 21% of the total combined gas and electricity markets.
In addition to electricity and gas, SSE Airtricity offers energy-related products and services including natural gas boiler and heating services such as repair and installation. During the year the company completed a buyout of its successful joint venture SSE Airtricity Energy Services. This company is positioned for future expansion and to that end has been fully integrated into SSE's existing operations.
In early 2015 SSE Airtricity announced changes to its standard energy prices in each of the markets in which it operates in Ireland and Northern Ireland:
- Republic of Ireland: In January 2015 SSE Airtricity announced it was reducing its prices for around 440,000 household customers in Ireland's highly competitive and deregulated energy markets by 4% for natural gas and by 2% for electricity. The price cuts, which took effect from 1 April 2015, equate to a typical annual saving of €58 for customers on SSE Airtricity's most popular Direct Debit and eBilling Dual Fuel Standard tariffs.
- Northern Ireland (gas): The setting of SSE Airtricity's regulated gas prices, including any changes to those prices, requires the formal approval of Northern Ireland's Utility Regulator under a defined annual Price Control review process. From 1 April 2013 SSE Airtricity's natural gas prices have been frozen, providing customers stability and peace of mind for a period of two years. In February 2015, SSE Airtricity announced it was reducing its regulated natural gas prices for its household and small business customers by 7.8% on average with effect from 1 April 2015, saving £53 for a typical household natural gas customer. The next interim Price Control review will be conducted by the company and the NI Utility Regulator in October 2015.
- Northern Ireland (electricity): Also in February 2015, SSE Airtricity announced it was reducing its standard electricity prices by 8% from 1 April 2015, saving £55 for a typical household electricity customer.