Minister announces £30m electricity initiative

Enterprise Minister, Ian Pearson has announced plans to invest £30 million in a new initiative aimed at reducing electricity bills for Northern Ireland's businesses.

It is hoped that the funding, which is part of a draft budget, will help businesses save 10% on their electricity bills.

In an address to over 300 local members of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) at their annual lunch in the Ramada Hotel, Belfast, the Minister said: " I strongly believe we need to take action on electricity prices and I am including a proposal in the draft 2003 Budget to remove some of the excess costs inherited from privatisation.

"I would hope that the result would be an average decrease in electricity prices across the business sector of at least 10% below the levels they would otherwise have been, commencing 2004-05.”

The Minister said that funding for the proposal would come initially from economic development budgets. He added: "Staying competitive – maintaining and strengthening wherever possible our competitive position – is vital to the future success of the Northern Ireland economy.

"I am determined to help local business and industry become more competitive by reducing electricity costs and a primary focus of the new energy strategy, to be launched later this Autumn, will be action to reduce electricity costs further."

Mr Pearson said that Northern Ireland consumer's still faced considerably higher electricity costs than in the rest of the UK, with adverse implications also for fuel poverty.


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