Business owners on Tuesday called on the government to take swift action to remedy the energy cost crisis, deploring the high fines imposed by the EU and passed on to consumers.
“Energy costs have doubled since the beginning of the year, during just nine months we have seen bills double what they were in January,” head of the franchise holders association (Sepaek) Chris Christodoulou told Alpha TV.
He has sent a letter to the energy minister requesting a meeting as well as to the finance minister to inform him of the issues plaguing the industry.
Christodoulou argued that the government must take measures such as energy price caps to ensure that businesses can survive – although others have said that simply passes the bill on to future taxpayers.
He also emphasised that some of the larger recreation centres – restaurants, cafés and bars – of about 400m² are facing bills of up to €12,000 to €17,000 a month.
“Some of our colleagues had bills of €22,000 during the summer months,” Christodoulou said.
The main point of contention for the business owners is the de-facto monopolistic status of the electricity authority of Cyprus (EAC). He explained that it produces electricity by burning mazut which causes major emissions – leading to high fines from the EU.
“Because we haven’t taken up the use of natural gas to produce our electricity… we as consumers are slapped with fines of up to €200 million a year,” he said.
Christodoulou further criticised the state for delays in helping set up photovoltaic parks, arguing that the many applications submitted to the government are languishing – as the agriculture ministry is still reviewing which locations can host such projects.
“The third issue is yet again for another year, the postponement of the market liberalisation for the production of electricity,” he said.
The association’s representative urged the state to allow big businesses and heavy electricity consumers to utilise virtual net billing.
He said that the current legislation states that they must install photovoltaic units on or next to their businesses but explained that being located in city centres disqualifies that as an option.
Christodoulou instead urged the state to allow them to set up photovoltaic parks elsewhere and be compensated for their production.
The government had promised to open up the electricity market in Cyprus by July 2014, but after numerous delays – the latest proposed opening was October 2022, but that too is off the table – and various technical issues – it is still serviced solely by the EAC, enjoying a de-facto monopoly.