In Ireland we voted to join the EEC, adopted decimal currency and watched colour television for the first time. The early 1970s saw a continuation of the boom times of the late 1960s. Business and industry were flourishing, rural electrification was virtually complete and oil was cheap. ESB was pushing for a growth in load demand. The all-electric house was actively promoted as the way to go.
In 1974 however, everything almost ground to a halt with the first global oil crisis and the quadrupling of oil prices. Growth in electricity demand collapsed as the price of oil rocketed . Petrol was rationed, there were power cuts and discussions surrounding nuclear power. There was a brief recovery in 1976 and the discovery of natural gas off Kinsale. But, later in the decade another more serious oil crisis loomed . ESB was no longer promoting growth in demand but instead switched, almost overnight, to energy saving. Consumers were asked to turn down and switch off, to insulate, buy lagging jackets. Once again, text concentrated on offering information as opposed to bright colours and snappy slogans.
In 1977, crises aside, ESB celebrated 50 years of progress and development, achievements in helping industry and creating employment. The company established a new business venture – overseas consultancy work. Adverts were now taking on a more public relations flavour and customers were reminded how much everyday life depended on ESB electricity. ESB designed and supplied special braille knobs for cookers and widely promoted electrical safety.
Thankfully the industrial unrest, power cuts and oil crises passed and, as we moved out of the 1970s ESB was once again moving back into load promotion and launching the new “Night and Day” tariff.