As a result, Fianna Fáil TD for Limerick Niall Collins has written to the Commission for Regulation of Utilities to establish what avenues are open to businesses being threatened with disconnection by their energy company despite being forced to close as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Deputy Collins says he’s been made aware of correspondence from one energy provider demanding final payment from a business which has been closed since last month.
“I fully understand that businesses have to pay their bills despite being closed, however, what I’m asking for is some leniency from the provider. So many pubs, restaurants, cafes and small businesses in Limerick and around the country are really struggling to remain viable and instead of threats to cut off their energy supply, what they really need is a bit of time and understanding,” he said, “These are businesses which have always been compliant and it is circumstances which are completely out of their control which have forced them into this situation.”
Despite the premises being closed, many businesses still need an electricity and gas supply for things like fridges, freezers, alarm systems and CCTV, which are critical for insurance purposes.
“These businesses have little or no cashflow at the moment and the bills are continuing to flow in,” he continued, “Most companies are being accommodating but unfortunately some are not. I have written to the Commission for Regulation of Utilities to see what rights these small businesses have when it comes to paying these bills; is there the possibility of a payment break option or a deferred payment plan? It’s not that they don’t want to pay their bills, they just need some leniency in the current climate.
“I will be continuing to engage with these businesses and hope to get some clarity on the issue shortly”.
The Vintners Federation of Ireland supports Deputy Collins’s approach to the Regulator as “action is needed fast to stop outlets being cut off by an unscrupulous supplier”.
And the Chief Executive of the Licensed Vintners Association Donall O’Keeffe told Drinks Industry Ireland, “Suppliers of all sorts of products and services to the Dublin trade have been pretty supportive of the situation pubs are in and they recognise that pubs cannot pay while they’re closed. Deferrals and freezes are the order of the day!”.