ENDESA, the Spanish company that entered the Irish energy market a year ago, wants the government to privatise the ESB, Bord Gáis and Bord na Móna in a bid to keep gas and electricity prices down.

Retaining the three companies in state ownership is blocking competition, Endesa said in a submission to the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER), the industry watchdog.

"Effective competition cannot be achieved while the combined market share of state-owned companies dominates the market.

"In 2010, the combined market shares of ESB, Bord Gáis and Bord na Móna will exceed 50% of the total generation market," the submission said.

The Spanish company accounts for about 20% of
Ireland's total electricity-generation capacity after buying two power stations from the ESB for €450m. The semi-state company sold the stations as part of an agreement with the CER in return for allowing it to build a new 430-megawatt power plant at Aghada in Cork.

Endesa recently applied to An Bord Pleanála to be allowed build a 430MW power plant at Great Island in Co Wexford.