Welcome For ETI Report On Electricity Costs
Manufacturing NI welcome the recommendations outlined in today’s report by the Enterprise Trade and Investment Committee on Electricity Prices in Northern Ireland. We thank the Committee for launching, and reporting on, a very detailed investigation. It’s important these recommendations be actioned, now, in order to achieve the Executive’s Programme for Government commitment to grow the economy and get people into work. With the 2nd highest electricity prices in Europe for business and the highest level of fuel poverty in the UK, the report makes it clear that the current situation around electricity prices cannot be sustained. We are losing competitiveness, investment and jobs.
We sense from the report a considerable frustration about a lack of transparency by both generators and the distribution company, NIE, on cost, value and profits. This reflects our own experiences. Of particular note is the call that changes be made to the system which unduly rewards electricity generators at the expense of all customers. Some electricity generators have a 79% gross margin and an average across the industry of 49%. This is unsustainable.
The Committees recommendations have the capacity to deliver significant change to the price of electricity, protect jobs, and encourage the flow of investment and heat homes across Northern Ireland. Our Government is to be congratulated on taking action which has improved our economy. Urgent action is now required to ensure we create the energy environment in which businesses can sustain and grow and the 42% of those in fuel poverty can heat and eat.
The first rule of business is “can the customer afford it”. Unfortunately for many business and domestic consumers, we cannot afford the price electricity is being supplied at. We would urge the Minister, Department, Regulator, Single Electricity Market Committee and energy companies themselves to take action based on this important report.