Energy price hike another kick in teeth for small businesses - O’Rourke

Local Fianna Fáil councillor and Mayor of Athlone, Aengus O’Rourke, has condemned the Commission on Energy Regulation’s (CER ) recent announcement that the Public Service Obligation (PSO ) levy on energy is again set to rise for all commercial enterprises.

Mayor O’Rourke said the news could not come at a worse time, when small businesses are still struggling towards recovery after the devastation caused by the recession.

“The upshot of this proposed increase is simple and clear,” Mayor O’Rourke said. “Struggling businesses around the country will see their costs rise yet again, at a time of massive uncertainty and patchy recovery in provincial Ireland. This is a completely absurd burden to place on businesses who are already struggling under the weight of inflated energy costs.

“Of course, the CER’s campaign to increase the use of renewable energy production and increase Ireland’s energy security should be supported, but jacking up the levy by 30 per cent for small commercial enterprises and by 9 per cent for medium to large enterprises is appalling. It is mind-boggling why the CER is forcing small enterprises to bear the brunt of the increase when they faced a 16 per cent increase in 2016. Where is all this going to end? Will the Minister only stop when every small business in the country is closed?”

Mayor O’Rourke highlighted the fact that Ireland already has the seventh highest industrial electricity prices in Europe.

“This year already, wholesale energy prices have dropped by about 40 per cent, whereas consumer prices have dropped by only three per cent,” he said. “Where is the voice of the consumer in all of this? Why is the CER allowing energy companies gouge on consumers at a time when their cost of doing business is dropping?

“The Government also needs to examine the most efficient and effective means of determining the amount of PSO that will be paid to electricity producers, to ensure that there is healthy competition among them. Minister Fitzgerald must immediately outline her plans to reduce energy costs for industry. There is no valid excuse for such a hike in the PSO in the energy market while energy companies continue to gouge consumers as wholesale energy prices continue to fall.”

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