The Commission for Regulation of Utilities has warned businesses that they could miss out on energy savings by not talking to their suppliers to avail of the temporary Supply Suspension Scheme for companies impacted by Covid-19 restrictions.
The scheme was introduced in May to alleviate the pressures on SMEs by ensuring that they will have no energy or network charges billed for their business premises supply point for the duration that the Covid-19 shutdown measures are in place.
The CRU said there are about 199,000 SME electricity customers and 27,000 SME gas customers who are eligible to take up the scheme.
But based on data supplied by suppliers, just over 8,000 electricity customers and 2,000 gas customers have availed of the scheme to date.
650 pubs, restaurants and catering businesses along with almost 450 hotels in Ireland have had their gas network charges suspended as part of the scheme, Gas Networks Ireland said today.
It is estimated that businesses could save between €150 and €4,500.
“To try and alleviate some of the financial pressure, Gas Networks Ireland will forego network charges for a period of three months.
“We hope that this measure, along with other supports from government, will assist these businesses in getting back on their feet as quickly as possible and support overall economic recovery,” commented the company’s Managing Director, Denis O’Sullivan.
The CRU said it recognises that not all customers will require the support and the phased reopening of certain sectors under Government guidelines will mean that some companies may not need to avail of the scheme at all.
But it added that it believes the overall take-up should be higher than at present levels.
The Commission has urged the main suppliers continue to engage with their customers to ensure as high a number of SME customers apply and possibly qualify for the supply suspension scheme.
The estimated savings for eligible customers will depend on the type of business and their typical energy use and can be up to several thousand euros, it added.
The scheme, which opened for applications from May 1, will be available until at least the end of July.
Aoife MacEvilly, Chairperson of the CRU, said the commission fully understands that business owners have a wide range of issues to deal with in these difficult times.
“Certain businesses that have been required to suspend trading are focused on planning for reopening, but we believe that some of these customers could be missing out on reducing their energy costs during this period of inactivity,” she said.
“Both energy suppliers and network companies have been focused on implementing this new scheme and I would encourage SME customers to contact their suppliers to fully benefit from the supply suspension scheme,” she added.
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