The CRU (the Commission for Regulation of Utilities),was known as the CER (the Commission of Energy Regulation) prior to 2017. Set up in 1999, they are Ireland’s independent commision for regulating energy and water.
About the CRU
When it comes to energy, customers can count on the CRU to:
- Safeguard their interests
- Regulate energy safety
- Contribute to the European-led call to action to reduce carbon emissions and promote renewables
- Ensure supplier compliance
- Register and resolve supplier complaints
They also regulate the costs of energy transmission and distribution, which normally form part of your standing charge.
They regularly carry out surveys on the energy market and on customers’ habits and preferences. In recent years they have also undertaken educating the public on the benefits of switchingmenergy supplier, and regularly run campaigns advising customers to switch every 12 months. As the commission tasked with representing energy customers, they are fully aware of the potential savings of hundreds of euros when switching energy supplier.
And who regulates the regulators? The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development(OECD) does. Their latest report reflected favourably on the CRU’s development and implementation of policy reforms, and recommended strategies for the future.
ISEMIn October 2018 the Integrated Single Electricity Market (ISEM) went live, a new version of the Single Electricity Market (SEM) for the island of Ireland. The ISEM is a new electricity market arrangement for the entire island of ireland and is overseen by a committee composed of CRU representatives (representing the Irish electricity market), Northern Ireland Utility Regulator representatives, and two independent members.
The CRU produces several guides for how energy suppliers should interact with the general public. As all regulation of energy and water suppliers across the Republic of Ireland falls under their remit, they ensure
- Rate compliance
- A fair cost for energy supply
- Preferential treatment for disadvantaged groups such as vulnerable consumers
The CRU seeks to protect not only the general public, from energy or water dangers, but also workers in the energy industry. As part of their commitment to customers, they not only supervise the safe transportation and supply of energy, but also regulate and certify electrical and gas installers. You should always check if your energy equipment or revision “expert” is certified in order to minimise and avoid any possible future dangers to your household.
As we all know, electricity and gas must be handled and installed correctly in order to avoid a loss of life, or injury. In fact, the CRU have brought several cases against non-registered and/or non-certified installers, seeking damages of up to €15000, in order to drive home the message that making money from undercutting registered workers, and putting people’s lives at risks, is absolutely unacceptable.
These cases have also highlighted that customers cannot assume that anyone who advertises as certified actually is, and must ask to see proof. Not to mention the potential ramifications for customers seeking grants, or looking to update their house’s BER (Better Energy Rating), if it turns out the work was carried out by an unregistered installer.
How can I check if my installer is registered?All registered gas and electricity installers should carry a photo ID card with their registration number on it. Ask to see this and check that it hasn’t expired. If you’re still in any doubt, make a note of their registration number and call or email to check.
One of the most common sources of the general public’s interactions with the CRU is regarding complaints. If you’re experiencing any issue with your energy supplier, the first step is to contact your supplier and see if they can resolve your issue.
If you’re not happy with their proposed resolution, the next step is to lodge a formal complaint with them. Suppliers have two months to resolve complaints, barring technical mishaps, after which if you’re still not satisfied, you can escalate the issue to the CRU. Most complaints the CRU handle are resolved within three months.
Note that you do not need to be a current customer of an energy provider to log a complaint with them. You could, for example, be displeased with the behaviour of a sales representative of that company, who had visited your house. When lodging a formal complaint always ask for a complaint reference number, as you will need one for any future escalation of the complaint.
When lodging a complaint with the CRU, there is a six step process :
- First you need to submit your complaint in writing. This can be done by completing the online complaint form in pdf or word format, and either emailing it to customer careor submitting it to the customer care department by post.
- After submitting your complaint, the CRU will check you engaged in the complaints process with your supplier, and ask for the relevant records from your supplier.
- They will then provide you with a copy of the supplier’s report and ask you if you wish to comment on it.
- Following this, the CRU investigate and may need to follow up with you or the supplier.
- The CRU then propose a decision. You and the supplier then have the opportunity to comment on the decision.
- After taking into account your comments and the supplier’s, the CRU’s final decision will be made known.
Freedom of Information
The CRU works in as transparent a manner as possible. Nevertheless, if the information you need is not on their website, you can directly request it by contacting them. Most requested information will fall under the Freedom of Information act, or the act on Access to Information on the Environment, and anyone is entitiled to ask for it.
All energy suppliers in Ireland are required to produce a customer charter adhering to the CRU’s guidelines. As part of these charters, suppliers must also set out how to compensate and/or refund customers when they have failed to meet the standards set out in the charter.
In suppliers’ charters they must set out a minimum of seven codes of practice. These should at least cover signing up, billing, disconnection, and complaint handling, for example. The minimum penalty for failing to meet their codes of practise is €30, and customers may still be entitled to further redress or compensation.
When comparing savings and tariffs for the purpose of switching, the CRU also maintains that suppliers must base annual estimates on either the customers actual consumption, or the official annual estimated averages for Ireland.
The estimates must also include all other charges such as standing charges, levies and taxes, and take into account any supplier discounts available. The CRU brought in the EAB to make sure suppliers were transparent in their dealings with the public, and to help consumers better understand, and be better able to compare offers.
What is the EAB?EAB stands for Estimated Annual Bill. The CRU advises that the estimated annual bill in Ireland for electricity consumption is 4200 kWh, and for gas 11000 kWh. Of course depending on your household size and consumption, this can vary.
If you’re not sure about your consumption and which deal would be best for you, here at Selectra we’re happy to help you decide.