‘Good businesses will go to wall’

Local retailer hit with €21k energy bill

The latest electricity bill for Timothy’s Londis in Abbeytown, Roscommon arrived on Thursday last, its content shocking owners Annie and Vincent.

“It arrived on Thursday last and I literally cried when I saw it. It was for €20,882.59 for one month and it’s now due on September 17th by direct debit,” Annie explained.

“If you take my winter bill for January this year that was €6,600 roughly. What has happened is that we were on an infinity deal but that ended at the beginning of the summer. Over the summer we got four bills. We got one for €9,000, one for €11,000, then €15,000 and now this one.

“We knew the cost of energy was going up and we did all the right things like emptying fridges every night and putting things into the back-up cold rooms. But there is no way a business like ours can sustain this”.

Annie says last month’s profits were all but wiped out by this latest expense.

“Every month you generate profit and that profit goes towards paying your bills and wages, and you’re always hoping there’s a bit left on the bottom line. What’s left goes back into the business for new equipment and things like that. The last bill alone sucked €14,000 out of the business for nothing extra. Instead of having that kind of money to reinvest it just feels like we worked for nothing. It’s like being a hamster on a wheel,” she said.

“At the bottom of the bill there was a whole series of charges and you’d want to be a Minister of Energy to understand what the charges were”.

Going forward, Annie says support will be needed from government as increased costs hit business people and domestic users alike.

“I’ve never looked for anything and I’ve never asked for anything. We’ve always ploughed our own furrow but at this stage we need help,” she said.

“At least when things were bad during the last recession we had hope that it would come to an end…but with this we don’t really know what’s driving it and I just hope the Government realises the seriousness of it. This is a national crisis and we’re all affected by it. Good businesses will go to the wall because of it”.

Local publican Larry Brennan, who is chairperson of the Town Team and an executive member of Roscommon Chamber of Commerce, echoed concerns that many small businesses will be forced to close due to the rising energy costs.

“I know of a number of local businesses where bills are three of four times higher than they were less than 12 months ago. This is a crisis and it is not sustainable for small businesses. Businesses will be forced to close this winter, there’s no two ways about it,” he said.

Mr. Brennan said that unless immediate steps were taken by the Government, both business and domestic bill payers would suffer.

“It’s hard to see any improvement until the middle of next year at least. The Government will have to come up with drastic supports for businesses in this year’s Budget and help for domestic users too or businesses will close and households will really suffer.

“At the moment, for many small businesses and particularly the likes of pubs in rural areas or small towns, it’s just not viable to heat and light premises during the week”.