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Irish Mirror
Irish Mirror
Danny De Vaal

Irish cafe owner flabbergasted after getting €10k electricity bill says 'we're not using any more than last year'

The owner of a small cafe in Westmeath has been left shocked after she received an electrical bill for nearly €10,000.

Geraldine Dolan, who has been running Poppy Fields Cafe in Athlone for the last 16 years, received an eye-watering bill for €9,836 for usage between July 8 and August 19.

The business owner revealed she did a double-take after initially receiving the invoice and believed it was a mistake.

READ MORE: Irish pubs: Four-month warning for pint drinkers as winter crisis on the way

She said: “I opened the bill, I took my glasses off, I put them back on again. I just couldn’t believe it. I got one of the staff here to look at it too and I thought maybe the decimal point is in the wrong place.”

The cafe boss revealed her electricity supplier was Spanish provider Iberdrola until they pulled out of Ireland in June.

To prevent a disruption to her electricity supply her account was switched automatically to Electric Ireland - the supplier used when a provider pulls out of the market at short notice.

This meant Geraldine lost her switching discount she received from Iberdrola and once she was transferred she was charged the standard unit rate by Electric Ireland.

Rules which are in place for when a company leaves the market mean Geraldine can’t switch providers until September at the earliest.

In an interview with RTE News, the cafe owner fumed: “How can you go from paying €14.99 per unit, which works out at €34 a day to €123 a day?

“We’ve no extra heating on at the moment. We have an air purifier, but they’re not hard on electricity. Our kitchen is not all electric, we use gas too.

“We’re not using electricity any more than we did last year. You need your oven on, you need your griddle on? How can I reduce my electricity anymore?”

Geraldine said she has no other choice but to the pay the extortionate bill and called on the Government to help.

She added: “The bill will have to be paid because I’ve no intention of closing my business.

“I’ve great staff and great clientele. I’ve been on to the Restaurants Association today about this, but the Government will have to intervene.”

Last Monday, CSO figures showed wholesale electricity costs jumped by more than 86% in 12 months.

Electric Ireland said wholesale prices are “currently many multiples of what would just a year ago have been deemed normal wholesale energy prices.”

The energy company revealed that this has caused “significantly higher unit rates for customers who may be coming off fixed-prices contracts, which are now expiring and were agreed with their supplier in previous years, when energy prices were much lower.”


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