Thursday, 4 July 2019

Questions (49)

Timmy Dooley


49. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the specific measures that will be put in place under the first renewable electricity support scheme auction to ensure community participation and community benefit funding for all supported projects; and his plans to ensure community participation and benefits are provided as part of renewables projects delivered through corporate power purchase agreements. [28527/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

The Climate Action Plan contains a commitment to open up opportunity for community participation in renewable generation as well as community gain commitments. A cornerstone of the new Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) will be the provision of pathways for increased community ownership, participation in and benefit from renewable electricity projects. The scheme will deliver capacity building supports for community-led projects, including financial, technical and legal assistance, along with community benefit obligations, for projects looking for support under RESS. The high level design mandates a Community Benefit Fund and Register standardised across the sector. The Community Benefit contribution is set at €2/MWh for all RES-E generation produced and seeking support via RESS auctions.

As part of the ongoing RESS detailed design work, which has included further engagement with community energy groups, my officials are exploring a variety of options to facilitate community-led projects within the first auction. My officials will continue to explore these options as the detailed design of RESS is progressed.

The implementation of RESS and the suite of measures for community participation are a key action in the recently published Climate Action Plan. The RESS scheme is one of the steps towards increasing the level of clean, renewable energy in Ireland and to mobilise local and community involvement in renewable energy projects

The final design of the scheme will be subject to state aid clearance from the EU Commission.

Under the current planning framework, renewable energy project developers are required to make contributions to the Local Authority Community Fund. In addition, the wind industry has committed to contributing to community benefit funds established under my Department’s Code of Practice for Wind Energy Development in Ireland - Guidelines for Community Engagement. In parallel with the new Community Framework to be delivered under the RESS, it is expected that projects delivered under corporate power purchase agreements will make community benefit contributions in line with the Guidelines, as well as meeting strengthened provisions for community benefit to be set out in the revised Wind Energy Guidelines.