OECD urges reform of Irish utilities regulation

By Geoff Percival

International economic thinktank the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has recommended “a comprehensive and necessary” reform package be implemented in order to improve the regulation of energy and water services in Ireland.

While broadly complimentary, the OECD’s assessment report on the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) ruled that the regulator needs to enhance its performance in order to “stand up to future scrutiny and ensure that the multiple challenges it faces are adequately addressed”.

The OECD said the CRU needs to better communicate with both consumers, in terms of its services and role; and with the Government in terms of playing its part in tightening energy legislation.

It also called for a more systematic and targeted use of regulatory impact analysis concerning Ireland’s single electricity market (SEM) in order to ensure the effectiveness of regulatory decisions as Brexit approaches and the SEM integrates into the broader European market.

“The CRU is a mature and well-performing regulator, and the review has served to identify how it can make even more of an impact - for example by improving its strategic planning, communications, data usage, and reporting activities,” said OECD policy advisor Anna Pietikainen.

The CRU said it welcomed the report and will be engaging with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform with a view to incorporating some of the recommendations into its upcoming three-year strategic plan.

“A big focus for the CRU will be to clearly explain who we are and what we do,” said CRU chairman Paul McGowan.

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