The Proenergy project is supported by Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) under the Better Energy Finance Pilot Programme. The project is a collaboration between Retrofit Energy Ireland Limited (REIL), the Credit Union Development Association (CUDA) and the Solution Centre, together with over 20 credit unions across the Dublin, South West and Galway regions (including a number of staff-based credit unions).
The project offers a one stop shop to Credit Union members to upgrade the energy efficiency of their homes.
Under the project, REIL will provide a free survey and advice on a home upgrade, and will arrange quotes and quality assure works, as well as discounting the SEAI grant from the cost of works. They are partnering with CUDA and 20 Credit Unions to provide low cost finance at a maximum of 6.9% interest rate, for the costs of works. In addition, REIL will cover the cost of the first year’s finance with the Credit Union on behalf of participating householders. It is hoped to upgrade over 200 homes under this pilot project.
The Proenergy project is the latest in a series of trials and pilots on financing conducted under the Better Energy Finance Pilot Programme. Other initiatives supported by the Programme include testing employer salary incentive schemes and deep retrofit projects with bank finance. In 2018, this has extended to a number of pilots with a consumer finance house, flexifi.
The Better Energy Finance Pilot is, in turn, part of the Better Energy Programme, which is funded by my Department and operated by the SEAI. The Programme consists of three main schemes which provide grants to homeowners to improve their energy efficiency: Homes, Warmer Homes and Communities. These schemes are supplemented by two pilot schemes exploring the multiple benefits of energy efficiency and the challenges of moving to deeper retrofit: Warmth and Wellbeing Scheme and the Deep Retrofit Pilot. I have allocated €85m to this Programme in 2019.
The recently published Climate Action Plan sets ambitious targets of 500,000 retrofits as well as the installation of 400,000 heat pumps in existing homes. The Plan commits government to developing a new retrofitting delivery model, which will group retrofits together to achieve economies of scale, leverage private finance, and ensure easy pay-back methods. The savings on electricity bills from using less energy can help fund this, while homes will be warmer and produce less emissions. An area based retrofit programme, not unlike aspects of the Proenergy project, would seek to capitalise on critical mass, leveraging economies of scale that would benefit both householders and the supply chain. This type of programme would focus on designated areas in both rural and urban environments and could be designed and delivered to include local authorities, approved housing bodies or other strategic delivery partners. It would also take account of the priorities to achieve greater depth of retrofit and the targeted replacement of oil boilers with renewable alternatives. The lessons learned from the Better Energy Finance Programme and wider Better Energy Programme will be of great assistance in designing the policies and approaches required to deliver on this target. The Climate Action Plan also highlights the need for urgent action given the critical nature of the climate challenges that face us. For that reason, I would encourage homeowners to avail of the supports and financing options currently available.