Cork companies express concern about rising energy costs

Business numbers in Cork are struggling to find solutions to ease the pressure of exorbitant energy bills, which they say they have never seen before.

In recent days, several energy providers have announced increases in gas and electricity prices to consumers, sparking widespread concern.

Kevin Herlihy, of Herlihy Centra Group, said the business has seen “tremendous” rises in energy prices recently.

“We were paying 13.5 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) and this month it will come to 32 cents per kilowatt hour,” Hurlihy, who is also president of the Cork Business Association (CBA), told The Echo.

“It’s a banana. I’ve never seen anything like it.

“We’ve had crisis meetings at work for the past two weeks trying to decide what we’re going to do, how we’re going to mitigate it,” he said.

With energy bills and other climbing expenses soaring, Hurlihy said it’s a worrying time for traders.

“All in all, it’s a very scary time. We just got out of covid, we thought things were going to be okay, we’d be back to normal, and all of a sudden this happened.

Mr Herlihy said the Canada Business Agency (CBA) had recently met with the government to express its concerns and said he hoped measures would be taken to help businesses.

“We met with the government recently to make our point.

We hope to meet them again before the budget. To be fair, they hear us. We asked for a cap on the energy price.

“I don’t know if the government is willing to do that,” he said.

emergency measures

Speaking this week, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the price hike reflected a “broader exponential rise” in energy prices.

“The past week or two has seen significant and unprecedented price increases in terms of energy futures purchases in the wholesale market,” Martin added.

He said that EU energy ministers will meet on 9 September to put forward emergency measures to curb high prices.

From the government’s point of view, Mr Martin said it would “use the budget as well as the cost-of-living package along with the budget to relieve pressures on families”.

“We will also have to look at the impact of this massive price growth on businesses in terms of jobs and job retention. And we will deal with that as best we can in terms of alleviating the obvious pressures on people.

We will also launch an approach to reducing demand. In other words, energy efficiency, and we all have to see what we can do to reduce our energy consumption.”

Calling for government action

In a tweet earlier this week, the general manager of Celtic Ross Hotel in Rosscarbury, Neil Grant, said the hotel had received a staggering €18,262 electricity bill for July.

This was in comparison to the electricity bill of €7,700 in July of 2019 and €8,324 in July of 2021.

Pictured at the Celtic Ross Hotel, Rosscarbury Co Cork was Monsignor Neil Grant who was highlighting the massive rise in energy bills. Dennis Boyle’s photo

Speaking to The Echo, Mr Grant said the hotel was “amazed” at the price of the bill.

Mr Grant said it would be “more shocking” if the hotel’s electricity bill for August wasn’t as high as that for July as the hotel was “on the same level of business”.

“We have always focused on trying to improve our energy consumption.

“We are in the process of upgrading our heating system which has been a four or five year project that we have been trying to keep pace with and we hope to be close to retrofitting, to a certain extent, our business to be able to withstand such shocks.

We still don’t know if that will be enough.

“We still don’t know once the time comes if there were any savings we were hoping for.

“I think in times like this you just have to try to find an alternative way and that’s what we’re going to try to do.”

Speaking to other hoteliers, Mr Grant said they had similar concerns and called on the government to act urgently.

“The government has to listen to the families, they have to listen to the SMEs, they have to listen to many other stories like mine and they say this is real and this is not true,” he said.