Commercial Electricity Prices Second Highest In Europe
The Utility Regulator today publishes a report which, for the first time, provides a comparison of electricity prices in Northern Ireland with the rest of Europe. The key finding of the report, which shows comparative prices for 2011 (the most recent available for 15 EU member states) is that for small, medium and large industrial and commercial customers who make up 30% of I&C consumers electricity prices were among the highest in Europe.
Commenting on the publication of the report, Utility Regulator Chief Executive, Shane Lynch, said:
“Energy prices are the subject of much debate in NI and indeed throughout Europe. This is understandable, as these prices impact on important social and economic issues within every jurisdiction, for example on fuel poverty and industrial competitiveness.
“Several stakeholders have asked us about comparisons between electricity prices in Northern Ireland and other parts of Europe. It is important that there is transparency on energy pricing and we therefore made a commitment to collate and publish such data. The data will also be a useful basis for framing discussion around factors affecting energy prices going forward.
“We also recognise that regulators, policy makers, consumer representatives and the electricity industry especially all have some responsibility in helping to explain the pricing picture. For that reason we would like to facilitate a debate among interested stakeholders on this very important aspect of our energy policy and regulation. We therefore would welcome views by 24 May. ”
Manufacturing NI Chief Executive Bryan Gray said “Despite the bad news contained in this report we welcome the increased transparency that the Regulators research brings to the marketplace for large energy users. This research confirms what we have been highlighting to the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment for some time. Electricity costs for manufacturers in NI are almost double those of our competitors in countries such as France and Sweden, and significantly higher than both GB and the Republic of Ireland. These latest figures provide indisputable evidence of exactly where Northern Ireland sits in terms of manufacturing costs.
High costs such as these have a major impact on the competitiveness of Northern Ireland plc and consequently on jobs in the private sector. Local manufacturers who are competing in export markets face huge challenges to overcome such a high cost base against their competitors. We must also remember that our largest employers, many of whom are multi-national companies such as Michelin, Montupet, Bombardier and Almac, are effectively competing against other plants in their own group located elsewhere in the world, where electricity costs are much lower. With contracting world production during the continuing recession this brings many challenges for local management.
We believe that we now need urgent action from DETI to develop a strategy to address this situation in the short term. Present public policy on energy, including Northern Ireland’s target for 40% renewable energy by 2020, has the potential to increase costs further, by as much as 25% according to estimates given by the Regulator. Action is needed now before we suffer further job losses in manufacturing with consequential damage to our economy.”
A full copy of the Regulators research together with a question and answer paper can be downloaded here:-