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Multinational employers’ alarm as energy bills have “gone crazy”


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Multinational employers’ alarm as energy bills have “gone crazy” Multinational employers’ alarm as energy bills have “gone crazy”

Businesses and multi-national companies are alarmed at rocketing energy bills that are massively impacting the competitiveness of Galway’s major employers.

Employers group IBEC met with TDs in recent days to lobby for measures to tackle astronomical electricity costs of large factories that employ thousands of people.

Among them was Galway West TD Noel Grealish, who feared inward investment could dry-up if energy inflation is not eased.

“Businesses are struggling. Supports have to be brought in to support businesses. We had a meeting with IBEC last week, with all the big factories in Parkmore – Boston Scientific, Thermo King, Medtronic and all of their electricity bills are gone crazy,” he said.

“There’s a danger that it could have a knock-on effect on investment in Ireland because it’s only in Europe the fuel prices have gone through the roof,” he added.

He said multinationals in other parts of the world are not impacted by the gas pipeline that’s supplying Europe.

“They might start looking to Asia and India; India are now buying cheap fuel off Russia. We have to ensure we keep the lights on for domestic customers, keep industry going and we have to get Ireland competitive again because of we don’t tackle the issue of high energy costs it could make Ireland very unattractive for inward investment,” Deputy Grealish said.

As well as large businesses, small and medium enterprises and domestic users, including elderly, are now dreading energy bills this winter.

“We’re trying to put pressure on Government so that there are proper supports in place for families and businesses. The fear is a lot of elderly people might not be able to afford bills and they’ll be cut off. It’s the fear of opening the bloody envelope now when it does arrive,” said Deputy Grealish.

He’s one of three Independent Galway TDs who have called for the introduction of emergency legislation to remove the threat of turning off electricity supply to domestic customers, hospitals, schools and nursing homes this winter.

The Regional Group, which includes Galway East TD Seán Canney, and Roscommon-Galway TD Denis Naughten, has proposed a ban on threats to ‘turn off the lights’ in response to potential electricity shortages this winter.

The trio’s group said that to facilitate supplies to essential customers, high energy users including data centres, “must be directed to use their emergency backup generators at all times of peak electricity demand”.

“The reality is that the current crisis has been caused by the mismanagement of electricity supplies, which is now causing serious financial hardship to families and business throughout the country,” they said.

The Regional Group has reiterated its call for Derrybrien Wind Farm to be re-commissioned, with any profits to be ring-fenced for a “local community and environmental benefit fund”.

They want midlands’ biomass power stations in Lanesboro and Shannonbridge to be reopened. They have potential for 250 megawatts of power generation and have a ten-year lifespan left.

“The existing biomass supplies should be supplemented with an immediate suspension of the requirement for licenses for the felling and thinning of forestry,” the Dáil deputies said.

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