The specter of drastic increases in energy prices. “The difference can be up to 200 percent.”

Luc Williams

In accordance with the currently applicable act The protective period for energy prices will end on June 30. For now, companies from the micro, small and medium-sized enterprise sector use shielding solutions thanks to which they pay for electricity in accordance with the 2023 tariffs.

The reliefs are to disappear in the second half of the year. This will result in a huge increase in energy bills and the costs that fall on the SME sector may be passed on to households.

It is estimated that the difference may range from 80 to even 200 percent. There is no way for a restaurant, hotel or industrial production company to cope with such a change without turbulence,” says Hanna Mojsiuk, president of the Northern Chamber of Commerce in Szczecin.

Low-margin companies are the most sensitive

As the president of the Chamber tells us, two sectors of the economy are most at risk of problems: energy-intensive industries and low-margin industries for which any economic disruption means a risk of discontinuity.

The industries include: wood, metal, gastronomy and tourism industries. Small and medium-sized companies are particularly vulnerable to the growth of the so-called fixed costs due to the smaller scale of production. Problems will certainly also affect companies that are technologically behind in terms of energy optimization and family businesses.

“We are also concerned about the condition of SME sector companies operating on low margins. High electricity and energy prices in 2022 have brought many craft bakeries and small companies to the brink of bankruptcy.that cannot afford to include 200% increases in energy prices in their budget. – explains Mojsiuk in an interview with Forsal.

It’s time for energy modernization

The National Reconstruction Plan may be a remedy for technologically lagging companies, where a large part of their costs are related to electricity consumption. According to its assumption, a significant part of the funds is to be allocated to the energy transformation of the Polish economy. The beneficiaries could therefore be companies that have not yet been able to afford to modernize their production systems to make them less energy-intensive.

“Since the energy crisis in 2022, entrepreneurs have been doing a lot to optimize the costs of energy, gas and utility fees. However, we must be aware that energy optimization is usually a big expense for a company before it becomes profitablewhich not every company can afford,” explains Mojsiuk.

Entrepreneurs who want to focus on ecological solutions try to obtain financial support, but at the same time they are often forced to pay high bills because their current situation does not allow them to invest in energy.

“We see a significant opportunity in this respect in the National Reconstruction Plan, which largely assumes supporting the energy revolution in industry, but also in the SME sector. Therefore, I expect that KPO for many sectors of the economy may be the only prospect for replacing the heat source or optimizing energy bills,” adds Mojsiuk.

Or maybe a gradual shift away from relief?

According to the Chamber’s experts, certain remedial measures are possible that would cushion the drastic price increase.

“We expect solutions that will allow entrepreneurs to cope with changes in energy prices. Such an idea could be, for example, spreading the reductions over time, i.e. the shield would not stop working immediately, but, for example, the value of the add-on would decrease every quarter,” says Mojsiuk.

He adds that entrepreneurs understand the fact that the protective shields in the energy segment will no longer apply and that they “are not offended at the government”.

We were aware that this had to happen. We are in favor of maintaining protection programs for the SME and industry sectors when companies have financial problems. Such assistance would be absolutely justified in a situation where we are dealing with economic perturbations,” argues the president of the Chamber.

Lack of clear regulations

Experts point out another problem related to budgeting energy costs. It is about the lack of transparency and stability of regulations.

In 2022, when bills were skyrocketing, many entrepreneurs didn’t know what the components of their energy bills were – how much the raw material costs, how much it costs to transport it, and how much it costs to store it, for example. Some people received an increase of several hundred percent and had no idea why they had to pay so much,” explains Piotr Wolny, director of the Northern Chamber of Commerce in Szczecin.

He adds that, like all administrative regulations affecting the conditions of doing business, energy price tariffs for entrepreneurs should be clear, transparent and predictable.

Pursuant to the Act, support applies to the so-called sensitive recipients, local governments and the SME sector. It assumes freezing electricity prices for 2024 and sets the maximum price at PLN 693/MWh.


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