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Power isn't quite paying like it used to for ESB

Profits are down at the semi-state, but it’s still delivering a €300 million windfall to the government.

SEMI-STATE ELECTRICITY SUPPLIER ESB has reported a significant drop in profits because of falling wholesale power prices.

But the company, which produces about 43% of all electricity across the island of Ireland, has still delivered a dividend of over €300 million to its government owners.

In its 2014 annual report, ESB said its operating profits had fallen nearly 20% on the previous year’s figures to €552 million for the 12 months.

It follows Centrica, the UK-based parent company for Ireland’s biggest residential supplier, Bord Gáis Energy, reporting an even larger fall in profits last year.

ESB mainly blamed the drop on lower gas prices – which had cut wholesale electricity costs across the board – storm repair costs and reduced availability at its coal-fuelled Moneypoint plant due to repair work.

Meanwhile the semi-state’s retail arm, Electric Ireland, cut prices 2% for residential customers during a year in which energy commodity prices fell dramatically.

It had 37% of the total supply market, or some 1.5 million customers last year.

Pictured here is Aodhan McDonagh, ESB Project Engi Source: Photocall Ireland/ESB

‘Good progress’ on wind

ESB said it spent about €700 million in energy infrastructure across the island last year as it boosted the share of its power coming from wind turbines.

According to its report, it said it had made “good progress” in building a new wind farm at Woodhouse in Co Waterford.

The farm was expected to come online in the first half of this year, taking the company’s total wind generation to over 400 MW.

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Some 92% of ESB’s power generation still came from gas, coal and peat last year, while the remainder came from wind and hydro plants.

ESB2 Source: ESB

The government has agreed a target with the EU that 40% of the country’s electricity needs would come from renewable sources by 2020, although it is in danger of falling short on some goals and being liable for up to €400 million in annual penalties.

First published 10.30am

READ: Poll: Should more be done to develop renewable energy in Ireland? >

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About the author:

Peter Bodkin  / Editor, Fora

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