Wednesday, 13 March 2019
Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate
Commission for Regulation of Utilities
Under this scheme, we give a premium payment on the basis that high-efficiency combined heat and power is delivered. A biomass combustion generating electricity would get a much lower rate of electricity pricing if it did not meet certain criteria setting it aside as high-efficiency combined heat and power, displacing fossil fuels and so on. That is the basis on which the premium is payable and the state aid rules underpinning that are approved by the European Union. When it comes to the interpretation of whether a project has met those standards, it must done independently of the Government. Those are the established rules of the renewable energy feed-in tariff, REFIT, 3 scheme. Somebody must independently assess each project to see if it is delivering efficiencies, carbon reductions, fossil fuel replacement and so on that were intended by giving this additional state aid to it. The CRU does that.
I am fully confident the commission does this in a fair and objective way. I have not see the papers surrounding this and it would have been improper if I had seen them as it is entirely a matter for the CRU. Every project that comes in is fairly evaluated against these rules. Many projects have come in and been evaluated and not all are getting 100% certification. The Deputy has correctly said we must be attentive in achieving our climate targets, and I am determined to step up the pace of achievement for those targets, but it does not mean a Minister will interfere in the way in which existing rules or new rules developed to promote decarbonisation will be applied. This must be independent of the Government, and that is what the CRU is doing.
I know the Deputy wants more of an explanation but I can only offer the information I gave already. Either the company should approach the CRU or the Oireachtas could ask the CRU to explain how it handles these applications.