Irish utility ESB is preparing to enter the UK energy supply market that would see it take on some serious competition.
Nearly 50 suppliers offer electricity and gas via a plethora of tariffs to household and commercial users. However, it's the 'Big Six' led by Centrica's British Gas that dominate the market. The other five include SSE, Iberdrola's Scottish Power, EDF Energy, E.ON and Innogy's npower.
The state-owned ESB, which currently supplies energy to 2.3 million customers in Ireland, would be following a string of foreign energy companies into the UK retail market. Recent entrants include France's Engie and Sweden's Vattenfall.
Without elaborating further, an ESB spokesperson said on Friday (11 August): "We are currently in the process of fulfilling all regulatory requirements in advance of entering the GB energy market later in 2017."
The announcement comes after the UK regulator launched a review this month into how best to reduce long-term energy bills, and recently ordered energy suppliers to reduce the maximum tariffs for customers.
Meanwhile, Energy UK, the trade association for the industry, revealed the number of customers switching electricity suppliers has risen 14% this year, with over 3 million customers having already switched their electricity supplier by July-end.
It added that one in five had signed up to small or medium sized suppliers. In July alone, 385,000 customers switched their suppliers; a 16% increase on July 2016.
Lawrence Slade, chief executive of Energy UK, said: "There are now over 50 suppliers to choose from, which is driving innovation, improvements to customer service and providing an incentive to keep prices competitive as suppliers fight to keep and attract customers."