Europe

Italy shuts down lights over ‘extortionate’ energy bills – ‘UK soon’

Italy shuts down lights over 'extortionate' energy bills increase

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Italy’s lights went out in restaurants and bars to save money on energy bills as the EU country grapples with soaring prices. As part of efforts to highlight the “dramatic situation” they face, Italian bars and restaurants have been putting their energy bills on display. The industry hospitality is resorting to candles to reduce its energy consumption.

The Italian association of retail and catering businesses, Fipe-Confcommercio, launched the nationwide ‘Bollette in Vetrina’ initiative meant to raise awareness among customers of the skyrocketing energy prices they face.

“This initiative aims to make transparent what is happening today to those who manage a bar or restaurant, also in an attempt to explain to customers why they are paying a little more for coffee, with the risk of further increases in the coming months,” says Aldo Cursano, vice president of Fipe-Confcommercio.

He added: “With increases in energy costs of 300 percent, we are working with a gun to our heads.”

The hike in energy prices comes as Italy is set to more than double energy imports to nearly €100billion this year.

Italy has successfully weaned itself off Russian gas from 40 percent last year to 25 percent, the country’s Prime Minister Mario Draghi said in late June.

But Italy is still heavily reliant on imports – it imports three-quarters of its power consumption. Though it decreased its reliance on Russian energy, the Russian state-owned energy giant Gazprom has been hiking up prices.

Speaking at an annual business forum, Italy’s Economy Minister Daniele Franco said Italy had little room for manoeuvre given its high debt.

“To keep offsetting, at least in part, rising energy prices through public finances is very costly and we could never do enough,” he said.

“What matters is to bring the price of gas and energy back to sustainable levels,” Italy’s economy minister added.

Britain could soon be on the brink of that same nightmare scenario, with restaurants and bars forced to turn off their lights.

Analyst firm Cornwall Insight warned that businesses are more exposed to sharp energy price rises.

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Business owners are not eligible for the £400 household energy rebate. The Ofgem price cap only applies to domestic properties, as the cap is designed to protect the consumers and not businesses.

The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) have written to Boris Johnson’s Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi to warn that without financial support, its members will be forced to shut down.

“We will see villages, housing estates, neighbourhoods, and high streets lose their small shops,” the letter stated.

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