Restaurants eliminate high utility bills. We're done, should we ask for a 15 euro currency? The owner asks

Expensive electricity, gas and heat. Energy bills have already started to take their toll. Many of the restaurants and hotels cannot stand their several-fold increase. Some businesses had to close. Others are still fighting. They complain that the state did not come with any essential help.

An annual increase of 25 thousand euros for utilities also landed on the table of the businessman from Trnava, Marcel Pažítek, who runs two restaurants. He has a current contract with the alternative supplier Elgas until the end of the year, but he refuses to pay the increased amount from the new year.

In addition, Slovenské elektrárne cannot accept him, claims the manager of the restaurant called Per Tutti. As the reason why they do not want to accept it, Slovenské elektrárne claims that it is forbidden to them because Elgas did not go bankrupt. Connection to the Slovak Gas Industry (SPP) is still in play, but it also offers high invoices because it falls into the unregulated segment. So the company has no choice but to pay expensive energy bills or close down. Of course, he doesn’t want that.

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However, large sums started coming to him already in February. “I have 30 employees, whom I have kept throughout the pandemic, and now we are in almost the same situation, where we call ourselves – the golden crown,” says a desperate Pažitka.

Energy costs – that is, gas and electricity – were increased in one of the two establishments from two thousand to eight thousand euros. That’s why he asks: According to these costs, how much should a pizza or lunch menu cost – 15 euros? “Who would come to buy it?” asks Pažítka.

Similar problems were also experienced by the

Ružinovo restaurant Planetka . SPP disconnected it from the energy supply. The owner of the building, Vladimir Sirotka, where the company is located, has had a contract with the state supplier since 2014, but according to him, there was a mistake on the part of SPP, and after the new one, he was charged a roughly tenfold increase in energy prices. Right up until today, they paid 35 euros for 1 megawatt hour. Today, SPP offers them the same volume for EUR 349.70.

“We were surprised that SPP, as a large company, would not have its contracts in order. So on what basis did they collect our payments and supply electricity? They never contacted us, they could verify the existence of the contract with one phone call. They immediately sent a new contract with an unusually short deadline – 8 days – for signing,” says Sirotka. From day to day, without warning, they were simply disconnected. Everything they had for electricity – refrigerators and freezers – stopped working, orders had to be canceled and the losses from shutdown to reopening reached 10,000 euros. However, the story of the building has a happy ending. They found a small supplier who restored their supplies. However, they are impatiently waiting for further steps and help from the state.

There are more and more similar cases. There are announcements on Facebook and websites that businesses simply had to close. One of them is, for example, Baske Villa in Trenčianske Teplice. “Friends of Basque Villa. Thank you for your favor. We got off to a great start. Well, we have to close for a certain time. Without the help of the state, we will not be able to reduce energy costs,” such words can be read by customers on their website. They began to feel the increase in prices since February of this year. The price for electricity has increased by 230 percent and the price for gas by up to 263 percent, the owner of the establishment, Slavomír Podmanický, claims for Pravda.

He adds that it is impossible to fight with suppliers for a price reduction. “You can save money in a family home, where the whole family is aware of it and wears one or two more sweaters. But we don’t explain to hotel guests that it’s cold in the rooms and common areas and that high energy prices are to blame, or that the state is to blame. The guests will leave and will not come to us again,” said Podmanický.

The owner of the hotel in Trenčianske Teplice can achieve a small reduction in energy consumption by closing the wellness area, but the price should be reduced accordingly per stay, so it would be “no win”. According to him, one more solution could be found, namely to increase the prices for the stay proportionally. However, they would most likely have an empty hotel. “So we at Baska Villa have come up with a radical solution, namely: from mid-November 2022 to the end of April 2023, we will completely close the entire facility, and on that day I will also fire all employees,” concluded Podmanický.

The mentioned cases are not the only ones. “Despite the reduction of consumption and savings, the costs also increase several times in other cases. The biggest concern of hoteliers is the start of the heating season and the off-season, i.e. the autumn months,” said Marek Harbuľák, president of the Association of Hotels and Restaurants in Slovakia. Then the number of guests decreases. Reservations for hoteliers are currently coming in very slowly, so many are deciding to close their operations. They have no other option, there is nothing to rehabilitate losses.

Others also report problems kremsky

Many hotels and restaurants fall into the unregulated segment, that is, high bills in the electricity and gas markets are immediately reflected in the invoices. Unlike households, which are regulated and have prices guaranteed until the end of 2022. Chives’ restaurants tried to keep their electricity consumption below 100,000 megawatt-hours to get below the limit that would be protected by state regulation. The problem, however, is that the company has its seat in the building in which it has been operating since December 2020, and therefore cannot demonstrate continuous electricity consumption for two years. “We also provided the energy supplier with a statement from the previous owner, who also did not exceed the limit, but they did not recognize it,” Pažítka said. which ended the bindingness of the contracts during the year. “The problem is also that many businesses have not received new proposals and contracts from their suppliers, so they buy at spot prices. In such cases, there was a 5- to 7-fold increase in energy costs in the summer months, which is liquidating for most restaurants,” added Harbuľák.

Businesses are experiencing more difficult times than during the pandemic. The president of AHRS says that these are such extreme increases in energy prices that small and medium-sized enterprises cannot overcome without intervention and help from the state. Reducing consumption and saving has been implemented since last year. “Well, that’s not enough,” pointed out Harbuľák. The increase in costs is so high that if we were to translate them into the prices of services, these services would be unsaleable. According to Harbuľák, governments and European institutions must fight and implement measures that would stabilize energy prices at a reasonable level.

SPP guarantees low prices only to households

SPP claims that it does not terminate contracts due to high electricity and gas prices on world markets with any customers in regulated segments. But if the business falls under the unregulated section, market prices apply for it. “SPP buys electricity and gas for consumers in unregulated segments (excluding households and small businesses) at market prices, which are currently several times higher than a year or two ago, and, like any other supplier, must take this price into account in the price for the customer. “SPP cannot supply electricity and gas below cost, as this would cause the company a loss, and moreover, such action is prohibited from the point of view of protecting economic competition and is a criminal offense,” SPP says in a response to the daily Pravda.

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According to the gas company, the situation on the energy market is unprecedented throughout Europe. The gas companies pointed out that the company continues to actively cooperate with the Ministry of Economy of the Slovak Republic and other relevant institutions on measures aimed at mitigating the impact of high energy prices on households and other vulnerable customers.

The chairman of the National Committee also criticized the whole problem council for economic affairs Peter Kremský (OĽaNO). He called on the SPP leadership to stop bullying and disconnecting businessmen and citizens and to resign from their positions. The deputy is said to have registered several cases in which electricity and gas suppliers canceled contracts with small customers and subsequently offered them new contracts with higher prices. “In recent days, I have come across several cases where electricity and gas suppliers have canceled existing contracts with small businesses or citizens. Then they offered them multiple higher prices, and when they didn’t immediately sign a new contract, they turned off their gas and electricity within a few days,” explained Kremský. At the beginning of October, Richard Prokypčák resigned and was replaced by Miroslav Kulla.

If this happened to you something similar, or you know someone with the same story, write to us at ekonomika@pravda.sk


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