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Ferris: Rising Energy Costs Demand Radical Government Action

28 August, 2006


The Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Natural Resources, Martin Ferris TD, has said that the latest evidence of the effect that rising energy costs are having on industry once again illustrates the urgent need for a radical Government strategy to address the issue. Deputy Ferris was responding to an IBEC report that shows massive increases in the cost of electricity, gas and vehicle fuels for industry. He went on to support IBEC’s call for a special industry fund to promote energy efficiency, while criticising its flawed proposals for market liberalisation.

 

The Kerry North TDs said: “The 30% increase in energy costs for businesses over the past three years has also been replicated for domestic consumers with a consequent rise in fuel poverty. As we approach the colder part of the year we will once again be facing a situation in which many low income households will find it extremely difficult to keep themselves warm.

 

“IBEC’s concerns regarding the affect which increased energy costs are having on the economy are valid. However, I do not concur with their contention that the solution to the problem lies in greater liberalisation of the energy market, including the privatisation of the public providers. In fact the evidence from Britain and the US, which followed this route, indicates that private companies are even more likely to raise their prices. Gas and electricity costs there have risen by an average of 50% since the start of 2004 in Britain. The Enron debacle and the damage caused by deliberate sabotage of the Californian energy system by private investors in the US is an object lesson IBEC would do well not to ignore.

 

“The call for the sector to be privatised also ignores the reason why public utility companies were established in the first instance; for the very reason that they lend themselves to monopolisation and, with that the inevitability, monopolies will exploit that situation in relation to prices.

 

“It is clear, therefore, that privatisation would be a disaster here. Rather than less public intervention the Government actually needs to be more proactive in ensuring that energy supply is tailored to the national interest, of both consumers and domestic economic growth. Part of this would be more investment in promoting energy efficiency, and the proposal from IBEC of a special industry fund to promote this is a worthwhile one, deserving of further examination.

 

“The Government should also re-assert the public interest in our oil and gas natural resources, and by promote the growth of domestic energy provision through alternative indigenous sources including biomass, as well as wind and wave power, as a matter of priority.”

 

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