Small businesses bearing brunt of energy crisis

Leading lobbyist dubs Government scheme ‘labyrinthine’

Small businesses continue to bear the brunt of the energy crisis while big electricity consumers get favourable deals, one of the Republic’s leading enterprise lobbyists warned on Tuesday.

It emerged this week that multinationals have been paying as little as 7 cent a kilowatt hour for electricity while comparable Irish businesses paid up to 28 cent.

Neil McDonnell, chief executive of the Irish Small and Medium Enterprise (Isme) association, argued on Tuesday that small businesses continued to subvent both their larger rivals and households.

“And small businesses are the least able to afford this,” he added.


The lobbyist added that State-owned supplier the ESB had acknowledged that large energy consumers got a better deal as they were able to buy substantial quantities of electricity in forward markets.

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He pointed out that most members of his organisation were unable to buy energy in this way, although he conceded that the ESB had offered wholesale rates to some medium-sized businesses.

Meanwhile, Mr McDonnell pointed out that the application process for the Government’s Temporary Business Energy Support Scheme was so complicated it put many smaller enterprises off seeking the cash.

“It’s labyrinthine, the manual is 120 pages long,” he said, adding that many businesses gave up after several hours trying to access the aid, which is available through the Revenue Commissioners’ website.

Others were poised to give it to their accountants until they realised this would cut out much of the scheme’s benefit, Mr McDonnell said.

Government announced the scheme, said to be worth up to €1.2 billion in total, in September’s budget.

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O’Halloran covers energy, construction, insolvency, and gaming and betting, among other areas