Today we publish our consultation paper and accompanying options paper as part of the second phase of our review of the effectiveness of competition in the Northern Ireland retail energy markets.
Protecting consumers is at the heart of the Utility Regulator’s role and promoting effective competition in the Northern Ireland energy retail markets is an integral part of our approach.
Phase I of this review assessed the state of competition in the Northern Ireland retail markets and highlighted areas which may require regulatory intervention. It also endorsed the maintenance of price controls on dominant incumbent suppliers as an appropriate regulatory response to market dominance.
This second phase of the review considers the regulatory options for the Northern Ireland energy supply markets when the current form of price regulation, on incumbent suppliers only, comes to an end. We employed Cornwall Energy to assist with formulating a set of possible regulatory options which could be employed in the event that the current form of price regulation is no longer appropriate. Bilateral meetings with stakeholders helped inform the development of the options, as well as consideration of the provisional findings of the CMA energy market review in GB and their relevance to Northern Ireland.
We are now consulting on these future regulatory options and seeking views from stakeholders on the appropriate regulatory framework for the future, once the current regime of price controlling incumbent energy suppliers has been removed. The questions we ask of respondents are contained in our consultation paper and the set of options formulated by Cornwall Energy are included as an Annex to the paper.
Following this consultation, we intend to issue a final report later in 2016. The CMA energy market review in GB will also have concluded by then and can be taken into account where relevant to Northern Ireland.