Energy bills could fall further this year, says ESB

State-owned energy supplier’s profits hit €868m, soaring by 33 per cent

Energy bills could fall further this year if global gas prices continue to slide, according to Paul Stapleton, chief financial officer of State-owned ESB.

The group, owner of electricity and gas supplier Electric Ireland, said on Thursday that profits soared 33 per cent last year to €868 million, partly boosted by its British business.

Speaking after ESB published its results, Mr Stapleton said the group hoped that it could cut its electricity and gas charges again in coming months, adding to two reductions since last year that have knocked about 18 per cent off energy bills.

He explained that the price of natural gas, which determines domestic energy charges, had been falling for several months. “There has been a slight uptick recently, but the underlying trend is down,” Mr Stapleton said.


He said that the group has always pledged to pass on any reductions it can to customers since the Ukraine war sparked the energy crisis two years ago, driving up homes’s and businesses’s electricity and gas bills.

ESB will pay the State a dividend of €220 million from the profits it earned last year, bringing to €1.4 billion the total that it has handed over the exchequer over 10 years.

Almost a quarter of those profits came from its British businesses, whose contribution to the Irish group’s bottom line is growing.

The British operations include Carrington natural gas-fired power station near Manchester in the north of England, several wind farms and So Energy, which supplies electricity, gas, or both to 330,000 homes.

Carrington and the other generation businesses performed strongly, according to Mr Stapleton, while So Energy came close to breaking even in 2023 following two years of losses.

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Meanwhile, Neart na Gaoithe, a wind farm off the Scottish coast that ESB has built jointly with French giant, EDF Renewables, is due to start generating electricity for the first time this month.

The Irish group bought into the project in 2019. Located in the North Sea near Fife, the wind farm has the capacity to supply electricity to 375,000 homes.

ESB boosted investment by €334 million to €1.73 billion in 2023. The group spent about 60 per cent of that on its networks, with the balance going on generation, particularly renewables and storage.

Mr Stapleton forecast that capital spending would top €11 billion over the next five years, mostly on adding renewables and preparing its to reach net zero.

“ESB has reported a strong financial performance for the group in 2023,” Mr Stapleton said in a statement issued with the results.

“This underpins a second consecutive year of record levels of capital investment by ESB in energy infrastructure.”

Mr Stapleton added that the investment was “critical” to moving the Republic to a net zero carbon energy system.

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O’Halloran covers energy, construction, insolvency, and gaming and betting, among other areas