Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Energy Conservation.

7.

andMr. Kelly asked the Minister for Industry, Commerce and Energy the action taken on foot of the EEC Council decision of 27 March 1979 that measures to reduce oil consumption should be taken particularly in Government Departments and local authorities, the further action planned and the likely annual reduction in oil consumption which will result from these measures.

I have asked all Government Departments, State-sponsored bodies and local authorities to carry out energy saving programmes with a view to reducing oil consumption in accordance with the conclusions of the Council of the European Communities on 27 March 1979.

The following are some of the measures which have been proposed or are being planned: limiting space heating to 18ºC, conservation in use of electricity, boiler servicing, proper maintenance and tuning of vehicles, Departments with large-vehicle fleets to switch to smaller vehicles, planning journeys for fleets of vehicles.

It is difficult to estimate what reduction in oil consumption will result from these measures but I feel safe in saying that it will not be less than 5 per cent which is the target set by the Council.

I might add that this is an area which I intend to keep under review. The potential of conservation measures in addition to those which I have mentioned will be considered and evaluated.

Does the 5 per cent reduction relate to overall consumption or to the consumption by the State itself?

The question relates to Government Departments, local authorities and so on.

Does the 5 per cent relate to State consumption only?

This specific decision of the Council of 27 March relates to public authorities. There were subsequent decisions about targets for the Community as a whole, but not the one referred to in the question which is dated 27 March.

Is the Minister aware that the Council decision stated that major energy reductions should be undertaken within the State sector in order not to impede economic growth? If one is seeking a 5 per cent reduction overall, there would need to be more than a 5 per cent reduction in the State sector. Is that so?

I do not believe that is so. Since the State is very much involved in the economy in many areas, I do not think it would work equitably that the State sector should reduce by a greater figure. I would hope that all consumers could and would reduce their demand by 5 per cent.

Is it not the case that the Council of Ministers specifically decided that there should be a larger reduction in the Government sector than elsewhere?

I am not so aware. The Council decided that the public authorities in the member states should give good example by ensuring that they were in the vanguard of saving this 5 per cent.

If the Minister checks the record of replies he has given in this House he will find that something stronger than good example is required of the State. At any stage, will he be able to give a figure as to the amount of reduction in consumption to be expected from these measures? Have any of these measures been put into effect yet?

In my reply I said it should not be less than 5 per cent. Some of these measures have already been put into effect but not all, because it will take time to implement some of them.

8.

asked the Minister for Industry, Commerce and Energy if the Government have set up an interdepartmental committee which would co-ordinate the Government's shortterm response to the prospects of serious energy shortages in the winter of 1979 in relation to the consumption of energy by State Departments and if he will make a statement on the matter.

In reply to the previous question I have indicated steps which have been taken to secure in the short term appropriate energy saving measures throughout the public and local authority services. I have also indicated that the position will be kept under review and that the potential of further measures will be considered and evaluated. While there are continuous contacts with other Departments and State bodies in relation to energy saving measures and an interdepartmental committee on energy conservation generally has been in existence, a committee for the specific purpose referred to in the Deputy's question has not so far been established. Should review of existing arrangements indicate that such a committee would make a worthwhile contribution to energy saving in the public service I will, of course, arrange accordingly.

I would add that, as already announced, I am assigning a special role to the IIRS on energy conservation generally and it will be necessary to ensure that any formal arrangements adopted for the public service specifically would fit in with the overall approach on energy conservation.

Has the Minister's review of the situation thrown up the question of the peak loading of the demand for energy at certain times of the day? Also has that committee or the Government considered the possibility of introducing some form of flexi-time in the State sector and State Departments directly under his control in order to reduce this peak load demand.

I think the Deputy has another question today on that point. Is that not so?

I could very well have. If the Minister wants to wait until then to answer it, that is all right.

The information in regard to it is on that file rather than this one.