This paper presents a method for estimating the energy expenditure of Italian manufacturing firms with 20 or more employees for the period 2003-11. Multiple sources have been used to impute firm-level energy consumption in the dataset of the Bank of Italy’s Survey of Industrial and Service Firms. Then the expenditure has been derived considering the market prices of the different energy sources. According to our estimates, in 2011 the average firm spent about €740,000 to purchase energy, 61 percent more than in 2003. Energy expenditure is higher for firms located in the North, for larger firms and for those producing building materials and ceramics or in the chemical and petrochemical industry. In the period 2003-11 energy costs rose from 2.3 to 2.6 per cent as a proportion of turnover and from 27.1 to 30.8 per cent as a proportion of labour costs. The magnitude of energy expenditure is negatively associated with firm’s performance indicators: firms with higher energy costs have both a lower rate of sales volume growth and a lower propensity to export.
Keywords: energy costs; firms' competitiveness; statistical imputation; incidence of production costs