Electricity price war on the cards as Panda enters market

Panda Power becomes fifth operator in domestic market with 18% unit price reduction

An electricity price war is set to be sparked by waste management company Panda which is entering the energy market and offering a discounted tariff that could save consumers almost €160 a year.

The Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) has given the green light to Panda Power to become the fifth supplier of domestic electricity in the Republic. Its introductory unit price of 15.47 cent represents an 18 per cent reduction on standard prices and makes it the cheapest supplier in the market.

The company, owned by Eamon and Noel Waters, plans to invest €40 million in “phase one” of its energy rollout, and has promised to supply green electricity produced from renewable energy sources.

In the first phase of its new operation, the company is aiming to attract the 150,000 customers of its waste management arm, as long as they are willing to sign up to paperless billing and direct debit payments only.

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The company said it would be outlining “a series of related developments, including adding to its existing 700 employees and a nationwide consumer marketing campaign”.

The news was welcomed by David Kerr, managing director of utility price comparison company bonkers.ie. "It is good news for consumers in that there is more competition in the market and the new offer is the cheapest out there, although it is only marginally ahead of what is on offer from Energia, " he said.

The Republic had the third-highest household electricity prices in the EU in the second half of 2014, according to Eurostat figures last week.

Price hikes

There was a 5.4 per cent increase in household electricity prices in

Ireland

between the second half of 2013 and the second half of 2014, the third-biggest increase after

France

and

Luxembourg

. The EU average increase for the same period was 2.9 per cent.

Mr Kerr said the news of a new entrant to the market should serve as a reminder people needed to switch providers to make savings. “Only 15 per cent of consumers have switched in the last 12 months, which means the vast majority of Irish consumers are paying for their electricity at the highest possible rate,” he said.

“If people are to make savings long term then they really need to change provider every 12 months.”

Conor Pope

Conor Pope

Conor Pope is Consumer Affairs Correspondent, Pricewatch Editor