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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 21 Sep 2022

Vol. 1026 No. 4

Security of Electricity Supply: Motion (Resumed) [Private Members]

The following motion was moved by Deputy Michael Lowry on Thursday, 15 September 2022:
That Dáil Éireann:
— that SSE Airtricity has announced that it will increase prices for its customers on the 1st October, with electricity bills rising by over 35 per cent and gas bills increasing by 39 per cent;
— that in the space of 12 months there has been a more than €1,000 increase in both gas and electricity bills;
— that poorer households and families are hardest hit by electricity price increases as they account for a larger share of household expenditure;
— that a big part of these increases is due to wholesale gas price rises;
— the failure by the Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications to publish an assessment on the use of the old Kinsale Head gas field for the storage of natural gas despite assurances having been provided to Dáil Éireann over the past 18 months;
— that Ireland is the only European Union country without any natural gas storage capacity;
— that despite the Government and the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) being aware since last April that the Public Service Obligation levy charged to electricity bills was unnecessary it has continued to charge every electricity customer an extra €26; and
— that the passage of the EirGrid, Electricity and Turf (Amendment) Act 2022 last July will impose a €40 per annum charge for three years to provide emergency backup of 650 megawatts of electricity;
acknowledges that:
— the cheapest barrel of oil is the one not burned, and energy conservation must be given the utmost priority by the Government and society;
— the Corrib gas field only meets 30 per cent of our natural gas demand; in 2006 the Southwest Kinsale gas field was converted to an offshore storage facility, with a storage capacity of 230 million cubic meters, with the last of the storage gas withdrawn from the reservoir in March 2017;
— the new Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) has an inbuilt refund to the State where renewable wind turbines or solar farms make excessive profits, however, such a clawback was not incorporated into the Renewable Energy Feed-in Tariff (REFIT) schemes which support the vast majority of renewable electricity on our grid today; and
— the national grid has come under increasing pressure since the start of this decade, with a spike in the number of amber alerts which has gone from just 13 in the last decade to 17 already this decade;
calls on the Government to:
— accept the need to implement radical ideas outside the normal political playbook and declare the current energy crisis as a national emergency;
— draft and enact legislation to address the current supply deficit with an Energy Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act with a sunset clause after 36 months to:
— ban any threat to turn off the electricity supply to domestic customers and critical social infrastructure, such as hospitals, schools and nursing homes;
— reopen the 250 megawatts Midlands power plants in Lanesboro and Shannonbridge to burn biomass;
— suspend the licensing regime for the thinning and felling of forestry to facilitate the use of brash to fuel the Midlands power plants with biomass;
— direct data centres and other high demand electricity consumers to use their emergency backup generators when there is a shortage of supply;
— temporarily re-power Derrybrien wind farm and ringfence all profits for a local community and environmental benefit fund;
— set a national cap on the unit price of electricity, with the State raising a long-term loan to pay for verifiable surplus costs to power generators which would be repaid through electricity bills over a 15-year period;
— clawback excessive profits by energy companies, particularly in relation to renewable electricity generated under the old REFIT scheme, to help fund the cost of a unit price cap for electricity; and
— exempt planning for rooftop flush mounted solar photovoltaic (PV) panels on domestic, agricultural and commercial buildings;
— establish an energy support scheme for businesses, as some businesses are experiencing a 200-300 per cent increase in utility costs forcing them to decide between staff layoffs or closure;
— immediately commence an independent external review of all CRU and EirGrid actions which lead to increases in standing charges, to eliminate unnecessary spend and ban any increases in standing charges for all electricity customers;
— place a moratorium on the construction of additional data centres which do not have their own power source until such time as there is necessary capacity on the electricity system;
— conduct research on a one-off windfall tax for energy companies who have made supernormal profits because of soaring energy prices;
— allow for extra flexibility in the procurement of new electricity sources outside the RESS;
— immediately decouple the link between gas prices and electricity prices, which are inflating electricity prices, whether generated by natural gas or not;
— acquire through Gas Networks Ireland a floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal located in either Cork Harbour or the Shannon Estuary and ban the sourcing of fracked gas;
— prioritise investment in retrofitting fuel-poor households as a matter of urgency to clear the 2.5-year backlog in addition to an increase in the Fuel Allowance and an extension in the number of weeks it is payable each year, from 28 to 32 weeks per year;
— immediately approve applications received under the National Retrofitting Scheme, which are presently delayed by up to six months, if the homeowner has been fortunate enough to secure an assessment;
— address the cost of financing works under the National Retrofitting Scheme by introducing zero per cent long-term loans for retrofitting homes, whereby repayments are paid back through utility companies based on energy savings, including electricity micro-generation;
— expedite the rollout of the National Broadband Plan and the Government's National Remote Work Strategy, thus reducing the need to travel to work;
— increase renewable energy under the Biofuels Obligation Scheme (BOS) to 10 per cent in petrol and 12 per cent in diesel, effectively doubling the usage of biofuels in Irish transport as committed to in the Climate Action Plan; and
— encourage the use of hydrotreated vegetable oils in the transport sector following the model as outlined in the Swedish Renewable Transport Policy; and
further calls on the Government to:
— take decisive steps to reduce our medium-term dependence on fossil fuels;
— implement in full the Offshore Renewable Energy motion unanimously approved by Dáil Éireann on 8th December, 2021, and set out a clear policy strategy for the domestic production and consumption of green hydrogen;
— establish without delay a renewable heat obligation scheme similar to the BOS;
— support the development of indigenous biomethane production for use in heating and transport;
— direct Gas Networks Ireland to design and construct district heating systems in suitable towns and urban districts;
— implement, as a matter of urgency through Bord na Móna, a bioenergy strategy, including the use of fixed price contracts, to increase the supply of biomass for energy from our agriculture and forestry sectors;
— enact the Wind Energy Development Guidelines signed off by the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government and the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment in June 2017 to replace the outdated 2006 guidelines; and
— deliver its long-promised policy statement on geothermal energy and the requisite supporting legislation.

I must now deal with a postponed division relating to the Regional Group's motion on security on electricity supply last Thursday.

Question put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 13; Níl, 6; Staon, 118.

  • Berry, Cathal.
  • Canney, Seán.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Fitzmaurice, Michael.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Healy-Rae, Danny.
  • Healy-Rae, Michael.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • Murphy, Verona.
  • Nolan, Carol.
  • O'Donoghue, Richard.
  • Shanahan, Matt.


  • Barry, Mick.
  • Collins, Joan.
  • Kenny, Gino.
  • Murphy, Paul.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Smith, Bríd.


  • Andrews, Chris.
  • Bacik, Ivana.
  • Brady, John.
  • Brophy, Colm.
  • Browne, James.
  • Browne, Martin.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Buckley, Pat.
  • Burke, Peter.
  • Butler, Mary.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Cairns, Holly.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Carroll MacNeill, Jennifer.
  • Carthy, Matt.
  • Chambers, Jack.
  • Clarke, Sorca.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Conway-Walsh, Rose.
  • Costello, Patrick.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Cronin, Réada.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Cullinane, David.
  • Daly, Pa.
  • Devlin, Cormac.
  • Dillon, Alan.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Donnelly, Paul.
  • Donnelly, Stephen.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Duffy, Francis Noel.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • English, Damien.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Farrell, Mairéad.
  • Feighan, Frankie.
  • Flaherty, Joe.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Foley, Norma.
  • Gannon, Gary.
  • Gould, Thomas.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Guirke, Johnny.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Higgins, Emer.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Kenny, Martin.
  • Lahart, John.
  • Lawless, James.
  • Leddin, Brian.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • MacSharry, Marc.
  • Madigan, Josepha.
  • Martin, Catherine.
  • Matthews, Steven.
  • McAuliffe, Paul.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Moynihan, Aindrias.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • Murnane O'Connor, Jennifer.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Mythen, Johnny.
  • Nash, Ged.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Noonan, Malcolm.
  • O'Brien, Darragh.
  • O'Brien, Joe.
  • O'Callaghan, Cian.
  • O'Callaghan, Jim.
  • O'Connor, James.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Gorman, Roderic.
  • O'Reilly, Louise.
  • O'Rourke, Darren.
  • O'Sullivan, Christopher.
  • O'Sullivan, Pádraig.
  • Ó Broin, Eoin.
  • Ó Cathasaigh, Marc.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Ó Laoghaire, Donnchadh.
  • Ó Murchú, Ruairí.
  • Ó Ríordáin, Aodhán.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Quinlivan, Maurice.
  • Rabbitte, Anne.
  • Richmond, Neale.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Ryan, Eamon.
  • Ryan, Patricia.
  • Sherlock, Sean.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Smith, Duncan.
  • Smyth, Niamh.
  • Smyth, Ossian.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Troy, Robert.
  • Tully, Pauline.
  • Varadkar, Leo.
  • Ward, Mark.
  • Whitmore, Jennifer.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Cathal Berry and Peter Fitzpatrick; Níl, Deputies Paul Murphy and Bríd Smith.
Question declared carried.