The owner of a well-known restaurant in Wexford was in shock after opening her latest electricity bill – Sandra Forte of Cappuccinos on the High Street said she honestly believed there had been a mistake.
he restaurant’s bill from Electric Ireland, including VAT, for energy consumption over 58 days in June and July was an astronomical €9,116.74. Sandra said she expected an increase, but not on this scale.
The claim represented an increase of more than €4,000 over what she would have paid previously for the same period. “The bill would normally have been between €4,000 and €5,000 for the two months. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I had a complete shock when I opened it. I thought there was something wrong, there must be a mistake,” she said.
She contacted an electrician to check the bill and charges and was told the amount was correct as the unit price of electricity had almost doubled since her last bill.
Sandra had just recovered from the shock when she received another €3,100 electricity bill this week covering her business for 22 days in August. That’s a total cost of €12,116 for 80 days.
The restaurant owner said the current level of energy prices was ‘unsustainable’ and she warned businesses would close unless the government stepped in to cut crippling costs.
“When you consider that was the bill for the summer months when there were no heating costs and the air conditioning was only on for a short time in August, what will it be like- it in winter. I dread what it will be then.”
“It’s just not sustainable. It’s going to have a very negative impact on business. You can’t charge €8 or €10 for a cup of coffee. bills, but you can “Don’t keep raising your prices. With bills like this, how to make up the shortfall. Even if we were to raise prices across the board, that wouldn’t cover it.
A dramatic rise in food prices is also having an impact, with Sandra citing chocolate powder as an example: “It went up 40% overnight last year, but we couldn’t raise the price accordingly , because people will only pay a limited amount for a hot chocolate, we just had to sip it.
Sandra believes the government will have to step in and do something about it. “Otherwise you are going to see a lot of small businesses closing. There is no way they can sustain energy price increases at this level. The department is made up of small and medium-sized enterprises.
Cappuccinos has a large number of refrigerated display cases and catering equipment and uses three-phase electricity, with Sandra using a broker to find the best energy rate each year, even though she does not have a fixed contract. The current supplier is Electric Ireland.
The restaurant has been in business since 1991 and this is the first time it has received “such a tempting bill”, she said.
According to Patrick Meehan, owner of the Wexford Natural Health Food Store on Wexford’s Main Street.
“It’s costing us customers. We already notice it. People are looking for cheaper alternatives and you can’t blame them. We have to try to cut costs somewhere, but there aren’t many options.
“Our electricity bill for June and July was 80% higher than the same time last year. We were paying 19.45 cents per unit last year and this year it’s 42.6 cents per unity.”
“I’ve never seen anything like it. The costs are skyrocketing and if this continues for a long time it will be difficult to sustain a business.
“Take a standard jar of Meridian jam which sold for €2.80 last year, it has gone up to €5.20. Manufacturers say this is due to a shortage of fruit and an increase in production costs and delivery. Some customers say that everyone benefits us. We haven’t increased our margins, but the cost of the product that reaches us has increased. We have to pass on the increases that come to us.
“Even the price of packaging and paper bags has gone up and we can encourage people to bring their own bag. But you need to have lighting and you need to have heating to some extent. You need refrigeration to keep your produce fresh.
Patrick wants to see the government provide Covid-like support, especially for retail businesses that have remained open and not received support during the pandemic.
“I hope the government will provide some kind of help, otherwise I may see businesses closing down,” he said.
Aidan Rea of Red Kettle Cafe in Mallin Street said the restaurant’s fortnightly bill had risen by €600.
“The last two bills have been huge. I wasn’t shocked because I knew it came from listening to the news. Everyone talks about it.
“You are limited in how you can offset the extra cost – either raise your prices or close for a few hours during quieter times of the week to cut costs.
“We haven’t had a price increase since Covid, so there’s probably an option for us. But we never had the philosophy of rushing people. You can’t go any further with your pricing or people will stop dating.
“I think the government will have to take action. This has been done in Germany, where they presented a multi-billion euro package to tackle the effects of rising energy prices.”
Geraldine McCarth, the owner of Mangan’s Takeaway at The Faythe is counting on her blessings for signing a fixed contract with Panda in February this year, otherwise she would have faced a doubling of electricity costs.
“I’ve been doing this for about seven or eight years now. It made sense to shop around every year. When you pay thousands of dollars, you have to. I have an agent who finds me the best price for the year I pay 32 cents per unit I didn’t go for the cheapest price this time as with some others there would have been the possibility of additional charges during the year. lucky that my contract started before prices started to increase because the new unit rate is between 58 and 65 cents.
“I was just lucky this year but if this situation continues next year, I will pay double like everyone else. I will definitely have to pay more. If I hadn’t signed a fixed-term contract, I I would be in this position now. My bill is still €5,000 every two months on a fixed rate. It will be double next year. The impact on business is going to be huge.