Thursday, 11 July 2019

Questions (748)

Denis Naughten


748. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the reason the allocation of homes for retrofitting to community-based organisations under the SEAI better energy warmer homes scheme has now ceased; if this is as a result of reaching the allocated budget; if so, the measures he plans to take to ensure that skilled staff are not made redundant or CBOs forced to close down; his views on whether such actions would have a detrimental impact on building capacity within the sector to achieve the Project Ireland 2040 objective of 45,000 domestic retrofits per annum; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30837/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

The Better Energy Warmer Homes (BEWH) Scheme provides free energy efficiency upgrades to the homes of people living in or at risk of energy poverty. The scheme is administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) on behalf of my Department. In June 2018 the range of energy efficiency measures available under the BEWH Scheme was expanded to include ‘deeper’ measures. Under the expanded scheme, in certain circumstances, external or internal wall insulation, central heating and replacement windows, can be provided where a technical assessment (by SEAI contractors) considers them necessary. These additional measures brought the level of retrofit into alignment with that envisaged by the National Development Plan, but changed the relative attractiveness of availing of other 'shallower' interventions. Managing the enhanced package of measures has required careful monitoring and programme management by SEAI within available resources and I am pleased to tell the Deputy that the SEAI will be in communication with the CBOs and contractors in relation to further allocations in the coming days .

The BEWH Scheme is delivered through a panel of contractors, appointed through a competitive tendering process. Since the introduction of ‘deeper’ measures some CBO’s that are only contracted to carry out ‘shallow’ measures under the BEWH Scheme, have seen their allocation volumes reduce. While the expansion of the scheme has been positive for the energy poor homeowners involved and for building capacity in the supply chain in general, it has had some negative impacts for contractors that are unable to deliver deeper works.

SEAI will be renewing its contract with BEWH contractors in 2020, which will require all contractors to be able to deliver all measures, deeper and shallow. SEAI is encouraging all CBOs to apply for this contract and has been working with CBOs over the past year supporting them in upskilling and gaining experience to help ensure they can compete for the 2020 contract and that their organisations remain viable.

Building capacity in the sector is a top priority. However it is critical that we build capacity sustainably, ensuring that all contractors delivering these ever increasingly complex retrofit projects are adequately skilled and resourced. The new Climate Action Plan includes a number of measures which will build the supply chain for energy efficiency retrofits required to meet our 2030 targets including support for the development of necessary skills across the education and training system.