In the past year gas prices in Ireland have increased by 155% since 2002, one of the highest increases in Europe
Recent energy price hikes have left retailers ‘feeling the heat’ when their bills arrive. Last month, a 20% price increase for Bord Gais, followed hot on the heels of a 17.5% ESB price rise. One manager in Dublin told ShelfLife that running his 7,000 sq ft convenience store tots up to a monthly bill of E5,000, and that’s after introducing energy saving measures. So what are the Government doing to keep costs down? The CER says the increases are “a direct result of the sharp and consistent increase in international fuel prices over the past year.” It quotes the international gas price as up by over 130%, oil price by 85% and coal price by almost 100%.”
Patricia Callanan, director of the Small Firms Association (SFA), questioned in the Irish Independent: “Why is it that we are still so vulnerable to international price movements?” And Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association (ISME) chief executive Mark Fielding has called on the Government to “address the cost of electricity and gas by immediately implementing a national energy policy to incentivise and promote alternative sources of energy.”
However a spokesperson told ShelfLife the Government is committed to addressing Ireland’s dependence on fossil fuel imports. “In the heat sector, targets of 5% and 12% market penetration by 2010 and 2020 respectively are being delivered through the Greener Homes, ReHeat and Combined Heat and Power grants programmes, as well as measures put in place by the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to encourage the growing and processing of energy crops. “In the electricity market, the contribution by renewable energy sources will increase to at least 15% of electricity consumed by 2010, and 33% by 2020. This programme is already underway with the contribution by green electricity rising year on year, from 5.2% in 2004, 6.8% in 2005, 8.6% in 2006 and estimated at 9.5% in 2007.” She added that, “The rollout of the National Energy Efficiency Action Plan in the coming months will set out the Government’s measures and programmes in detail.”
In any case, perhaps going green could help individual stores avoid exorbitant energy bills that could put them in the red. The National Energy Assessors (NEA) told ShelfLife it is currently carrying out a commercial energy audit for a store in Ballina, County Mayo. The organisation says the audit will “assess your existing energy usage and identify where energy and money can be saved.” Here’s hoping it’s more effective than a regulator, which as ISME notes, has granted gas price increases of a “staggering 155% since 2002, one of the highest in Europe.”
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