Thursday, 8 October 2020

Ceisteanna (79)

Holly Cairns

Ceist:

79. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications his views on ring-fencing a percentage of the public service obligation levy for community-owned renewable energy projects; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29510/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Environment)

The PSO levy has been in place since 2001, and is a charge on all electricity customers without exception. It consists of a set of support schemes designed to facilitate national electricity policy objectives for renewables and security of supply. From a policy standpoint, the PSO has been and will continue to be a vital policy support for the development of renewable electricity and to enable Ireland to reach EU renewable energy targets and our own national energy and climate targets. The legal basis for the PSO levy and its method of calculation are set out in regulations made under the Electricity Regulation Act 1999 and the Public Service Obligations Order 2002 (S.I. 217 of 2002) under which the CRU, the Commission for Regulation of Utilities, is assigned responsibility for calculation of the levy each year. The methodology for determining the PSO levy charge is set out in the Public Service Obligations Order 2002 (S.I. 217 of 2002). The renewable electricity support scheme (RESS) will be funded through the PSO levy on all electricity consumers in the same way as all other renewable schemes. It is my intention that communities all over the country should be able to generate electricity and reap the benefits in their own localities from the sale of that electricity. In that regard, I aim to ensure the delivery of approximately 100 community electricity generation projects by 2030. The RESS will drive the delivery of this objective. Last month I announced that seven community projects had filled the allocated community capacity in the first commercial auction under the scheme. In future onshore RESS auctions, there will be additional capacity allocated to the community category and I expect that only fully community-owned projects will be eligible.In order to ensure an adequate pipeline of such projects, an enabling framework of capacity-building supports is being developed by my Department and the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). It includes information dissemination, trusted intermediary and adviser services, enabling grants, soft development loans and a simplified grid connection process. The SEAI has commenced assessing the next wave of community projects through the sustainable energy community network. The initial call has already identified 20 of the more mature projects for immediate support. A further wave of projects has been identified for later support. A dedicated telephone number and email address: communityress@seai.ie, along with web pages from SEAI can be accessed to facilitate further community engagement. In effect, as the RESS community supports will be funded from the PSO as provided in the State Aid decision on the Scheme, a portion of the PSO has already been allocated to community energy projects. It is important to note that successful projects from the first RESS auction are not expected to be energised until at least 2021.

Question No. 80 answered with Question No. 73.