Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Tuesday, 2 April 2019

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Communications, Climate Action and Environment

Energy Plant Certification: Commission for the Regulation of Utilities

5:00 pm

Ms Aoife MacEvilly:

It is the economic test. There is a useful heat but is it economically justifiable? That has changed significantly since the 2012 application. As to precedent setting, the difference between our process and, say, a planning decision or an EPA licence is that our certification is not enduring in nature. When we issue the HE CHP certificate for a planned plant such as Mayo, we make it clear to all applicants that it is five years before that becomes operational.

Aside from the fact that it lasts for only five years, after which a resubmission is required, let us say for the sake of example that MRL had continued under construction and had been completed within the initial timeframe. Let us further imagine that having done so, it discovered that for whatever reason it was no longer able to source the cheap fuel from the United States and its original business case had changed. Had we visited after a year of operation and discovered that the actual use of heat and actual process were different from what we had initially certified, we would have undergone a new assessment and would have potentially changed the certification level based on the actual output of the plant. It is not an enduring certificate; it is always subject to the test and audit we put in place. It is quite different from the EPA-type licensing process.

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