Ulster Unionist Economy spokesperson Sandra Overend has outlined her concerns regarding the ‘Carbon Levy’ on energy consumers in Northern Ireland following a briefing given to the Enterprise, Trade and Investment Committee.
The Mid Ulster MLA commented:
‘The Carbon levy was introduced in July 2010 and is a tax on some generating companies based in the Republic of Ireland. Following a court case in Dublin, which concluded at the end of February, it was ruled that the cost of this tax can be passed on to electricity consumers. The income generated by the Levy is then used by the Irish Government to fund a Large Energy User Rebate within their own jurisdiction.’
‘Since 2007 we have had the Single Electricity Market (SEM) meaning that electricity operates on an all island basis. The concern is that the cost of the Carbon Levy, an ROI tax, is being absorbed by consumers in Northern Ireland as well as ROI but we are seeing none of the benefits of the Large Energy User Rebate. Manufacturing NI, who briefed the ETI committee today, have estimated that consumers in Northern Ireland will pay around £17 million over the next 12 months to fund the Levy without deriving any benefit whatsoever.’
‘I would call on the Minister Arlene Foster to take immediate action to lobby the Irish Government on what is obviously an inequitable situation. The legal case was heard in the Supreme Court in Ireland and as such is not open to appeal. Therefore the Irish Government and the SEM must move to change this current practice. Quite how they thought this stealth tax on Northern Ireland consumers would go unchallenged is incomprehensible and it also calls into question the transparency of the SEM.’
‘In the current economic climate energy prices are both high and volatile and this news comes as another blow to consumers who are already struggling to afford energy Bills. Since I have been an elected representative businesses I have been lobbied on an on-going basis about high energy prices here which are 15% more than GB, 30% more than France and 50% more than the US. The extra burden passed on from the Carbon Levy makes a bad situation even worse.”