Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Questions (2206, 2207, 2210, 2214)

Eugene Murphy

Question:

2206. Deputy Eugene Murphy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the reason work allocations to community-based organisations have ceased under the SEAI better energy warmer homes scheme due to an apparent funding shortage in view of the fact that CBOs have been working to the highest quality standards for many years and in further view of the fact that the Climate Action Plan 2019 includes ambitious plans to retrofit 500,000 homes by 2030; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32197/19]

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Eugene Murphy

Question:

2207. Deputy Eugene Murphy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the way in which it is planned to meet the target to retrofit 500,000 homes by 2030 if funding to the 13 community-based organisations that operate under the SEAI better energy warmer homes scheme has been reduced; his future plans for such CBOs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32201/19]

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Eugene Murphy

Question:

2210. Deputy Eugene Murphy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the level of funding allocated to the 13 CBOs nationally to retrofit and roll out the SEAI's better energy warmer homes scheme for 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form; the number of houses allocated to the 13 CBOS under the warmer homes scheme for 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32222/19]

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Eugene Murphy

Question:

2214. Deputy Eugene Murphy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if the issue of reduced funding and lack of houses being allocated to community-based organisations which roll out the SEAI better energy warmer homes scheme will be addressed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32238/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 2206, 2207, 2210 and 2214 together.

The Better Energy Warmer Homes 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 Warmer Homes 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.

The Warmer Homes Scheme is delivered through a panel of contractors, appointed through a competitive tendering process. Since the introduction of ‘deeper’ measures, some CBOs that are only contracted to carry out ‘shallow’ measures under the Warmer Homes 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.

The following table outlines the number of homes and the amount allocated to CBOs in 2018 and 2019 YTD.

CBO Allocation

2018

2019 YTD

Deeper

Shallow

Total

Deeper

Shallow

Total

No. of Homes Allocated

116

842

958

92

203

295

Amount Paid (incl. VAT)

€4,584,628

€2,483,632

In terms of the allocations set out above, it is important to note the number of deeper homes allocated in 2019 year to date is nearing the level allocated in total for 2018. The shift towards deeper measures means that the value/cost of many of the interventions under the Scheme will be substantially up but the total volume of homes allocated to all contractors (not just CBOs) will be impacted in 2019.

While the deeper homes have been allocated to two CBOs (the two CBOs contracted to carry out deeper works under Warmer Homes Scheme), the SEAI has facilitated ‘strategic partnerships’ for CBOs in 2018 and 2019. This involved shallow-only CBOs partnering with other contractors to deliver deeper homes. This has allowed these shallow-only CBOs to gain more experience in deeper delivery and also financially benefit from the delivery of these homes, even though the allocation has not been specifically made to them.

The initial 2019 budget allocation for the Scheme of €24m was in line with the 2018 allocation. However, following a mid-year capital review conducted by my Department and SEAI, the budget has been increased to €39.8m for 2019. This will facilitate additional work allocations for CBOs and contractors in 2019 and the SEAI has in recent days been in communication with the CBOs in that regard.

SEAI will be renewing its contract with Warmer Homes Scheme 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 up-skilling 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.