The Electricity Supply Board (ESB), the Irish semi-state electricity company, is now free to set its own prices.

Previously, ESB had to seek approval from the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) to raise or lower prices.

ESB will operate under the new name Electric Ireland and will also offer gas supply as well as electricity to customers.

There has been strong competition in the retail electricity market since 2009 in Ireland with about one million supplier switches, one of the highest switching rates in Europe.

CER said that the deregulation has the potential to bring benefits to customers through downward pressure on prices.

CER chairperson Michael G Tutty said: “The CER is very pleased to announce the full deregulation of electricity prices for customers.

“Regulation has created the right conditions for a competitive electricity market to flourish, bringing lower prices and improved choice and quality of tariff products.”

ESB welcomed the price deregulation. ESB chief executive, Padraig McManus said: “This is a significant milestone for ESB enabling us to actively compete in the residential market.”

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