THE former vice chair of the Stormont Enterprise, Trade and Investment committee has said that the EU Commission’s rejection of a £90m scheme to ease electricity prices for business would never have become an issue had the Government bought out long-term electricity generation contracts.
The rejection of the proposals means industrial and large business users in Northern Ireland will face an increase of 6-7% in tariffs.
Alliance Assembly member Sean Neeson said: “I believe that the present crisis within the electricity industry could have been averted if the Government had taken on board the proposals that I made on the day before the Assembly’s suspension. I argues that the long-term contracts which were drawn up during the privatisation of the local electricity industry should be bought out.
“My view is that these contracts are at the root of the pricing problem and a buy-out would have rendered any EU intervention unnecessary, unlike the current situation.
“Once again, the absence of devolution clearly shows that we are losing out in major initiatives. The civil service and the Treasury turned down my original proposals because they considered them to be ‘too complicated’ to deal with. If they had listened, perhaps we wouldn’t be in this situation and businesses wouldn’t be facing higher energy costs.
“I would once again call upon the Department to look at the proposals I put forward in the Assembly in order to assist both business and domestic consumers in Northern Ireland, who now face substantial hikes in their bills.”