Sky energy costs crippling businesses - MLA

‘SKY high’ energy costs are crippling local businesses, according to a Mid-Ulster MLA.

SDLP economy spokesperson Patsy McGlone says costly electricity prices are threatening existing manufacturing jobs and are a barrier to the creation of jobs.

Mr McGlone, who is also Chair of the Enterprise, Trade and Investment Committee, also warned that any cut in energy prices for businesses should not be passed on via a price hike to the ordinary customer.

His comments follow a report by the Utility Regulator which shows that prices paid by manufacturers in the north are among the highest in Europe and double that paid in countries such as France and Sweden.

Mr McGlone met with the Utility Regulator Shane Lynch, with plans to with Bryan Gray from Manufacturing NI tomorrow to discuss the reports findings.

“The findings of this report are concerning and confirm what businesses have been telling us”, he said.

“Energy prices are a major outgoing for large manufacturers.

“The fact that those who locate in the north are paying significantly more than those based on the rest of the island, in the UK and Europe not only threatens existing manufacturing jobs, it acts as a barrier to attracting Foreign Direct Investment and the creation of new jobs.

“If we are serious about attracting investment, we need to be attractive to investors. Having some of the highest energy costs in Europe is not the way to do this.

“It is critical that there is openness and transparency when it comes to energy pricing and I would like to compliment the Utility Regulator for collating and uncovering this gross disparity,” said the MLA.

The SDLP Assemblyman said he would be raising the issue within the Enterprise Trade and Investment Committee.

“There is a need to strike a balance between the needs of businesses and the ordinary customer,” he added.

“Any cut in energy pricing for one should not be passed on via a price hike to the other. We need competitive and reasonable energy costs for everyone – domestic and business users”.