Ministers have finalised a package of measures to help small, energy intensive companies such as bakers and garden centres to meet their energy bills this winter, including a maximum payout of €160,000 per firm.
Companies which spend more than 12.5% of their turnover on energy will qualify for the scheme, which will see them being refunded half their energy bills if they pay more than €1.10 per cubic metre of gas and 35 cents per kWh of electricity. The aim of the threshold is to prevent firms with a long term, low price contract from benefiting.
Only firms with fewer than 250 workers and an annual turnover of below €50 million can apply and the total cost of the plan has been put at €3.1 billion.
Economic affairs minister Micky Adriaansens said not every small firm was in a position to increase its prices enough to cover the extra costs. Bakers, for example, could do with ‘some support… because they are a vulnerable group,’ the minister said.
The European Commission must first approve the plan and it will come into effect in the second quarter of next year. In the meantime, the tax office has agreed to ‘go easy’ on companies which end up in financial difficulty, as will the banks, the minister said.
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