Wednesday, 13 March 2019
Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate
Commission for Regulation of Utilities
The independent evaluator already assessed this project in 2012 and gave it 100% certification. The project has not changed. The regulator reassessed it and then reduced 100% certification to 18%. We must be able to get answers in that regard.
I accept the regulator's independence. The Minister used the word, "misunderstanding." There is a lot of misunderstanding in a reduction from 100% to 18%. Either the misunderstanding was in the first place in giving it 100% certification which then allowed a pathway of €95 million worth of investment or the misunderstanding is in this phase in bringing it to 18%.
I certainly will pursue with the committee Chairman, Deputy Hildegarde Naughton, bringing the regulator before the committee, and I understand Senator Mulherin will do the same. However, as the Minister with responsibility for climate action, Deputy Bruton must also be satisfied that we have the kind of pipeline of projects to assist us meet our targets. Surely the Minister should look at this project from a Department point of view, without interfering in the CRU, to see whether the project is adding up in terms of the refit and whether it is adding to the kind of targets the Minister needs to meet for the country.
As a former Minister of State with responsibility for enterprise, I reiterate that it is not good enough for the Minister to be sitting on the fence in respect of this project, leaving 130 jobs in abeyance and €95 million of investment literally in the ground. It is a project in respect of which many people were very happy to have their pictures taken. The project is needed for regional development and national targets in the area. I accept the independence of the regulator but it cannot be unaccountable either. I will pursue its appearance before an Oireachtas committee but the Minister's Department should engage and see if our pathway to reaching national targets in combined heat and power are being affected by the way the regulator does its business.