Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Wednesday, 2 October 2019
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action
Citizen and Community Measures: Discussion
It is fair to say that what we are hearing is that cost and viability are issues. I support Deputy Dooley's call for us to have witnesses from ESB Networks and the Department before the committee. We are focused on trying to unlock potential and there is clearly potential for microgeneration and more projects like that run by the witnesses. It is not just about large-scale operations and we all know we must try to get as much community buy-in and support as possible. I know there are technical issues and I imagine larger scale projects are easier to get off the ground and there are other advantages to them. I get that. However, we should have many more community-owned and microgeneration projects. I support the call to bring in representatives of ESB Networks and the Department.
I have a concern relating to smart metering.
I have been doing some research on it and when it was introduced in British Columbia in 2012, the number of winter disconnections rose from 4,000 per annum to 30,000. The rule in the system in this State, whether it is written or unwritten, is that people are not disconnected in the winter months. Given that this would be a more automated system, what protections would be put in place to ensure people would not be disconnected automatically? In recent years we have had very cold spells and this is not an issue because of the written or unwritten rule. I expect my colleagues would agree that the ESB will rarely disconnect somebody. There would have to be a very good reason for it. It certainly does not do it during the winter months. Will the regulator address that concern and how it would work in practice?