Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Wednesday, 2 October 2019
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action
Citizen and Community Measures: Discussion
I thank the witnesses for their presentations. I understand the necessity to have smart meters installed in order to be enable microgeneration to take place, so that the company charged with managing the grid knows what is available, when it is available, average demand and so on. However, I have not heard an explanation as to why Mr. Fogarty's very simple request cannot be met. In terms of scale, we are talking about a large-scale producer of electricity. The community is not going to be using the electricity itself between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m and we do not know when it is going to be on grid. It is a provider or producer that is coming into the marketplace. The view circulating in the general ether was that community groups were not really together or in a position to get their funding in place but that does not wash any more. These people have the where with all, the expertise and the experience and, more importantly, the capacity to get it done. While I do not want to sound like somebody in another parliament, getting it done is what it is all about. In our own constituencies and communities we see significant resistance to the big provider coming in from outside, even if that provider is Coillte or Bord na Móna. People do not see the benefit and they certainly are no longer happy with engineers turning up and offering to give money to the local GAA club as the community gain. The idea that they should accept such payments, get out of the way and let others get on with it is not going to work anymore.
The next wave of onshore wind will have to be in concert with and embedded in the community. It will have to be owned and controlled by the community or there will have to be a far greater level of individual gain, rather than a broad-community, broad-brush approach. There will have to be a deep retrofit for some homes close to the wind farms and there will have to be free electricity for them. It will require a much greater level of engagement between the promoter and those who rightly feel they are affected. The easiest way to address this is to establish why it takes the group in Templederry 12 years. I have been involved in different community groups and one rarely sees the same people after 12 years. If we want to get people to participate with the promise of a financial reward, 12 years is too long as many will have gone to meet their maker by the end of that period. Does the CRU have the wherewithal in its legislative remit? Does it need to tell us we need legislative change or enhanced powers? Does it come under the remit of some other state entity or agency to demystify this Rubik's cube?