Tuesday, 1 July 2014
Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources
Natural Gas Grid
287. To ask the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the percentage of Irish households that have access to the gas network; the way this compares to the European average; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28447/14]
Over the past three decades the natural gas network has been steadily developed and expanded by Bord Gáis Networks. Infrastructural developments have ensured that the network is well placed to accommodate gas demand in the medium term. Currently, some 39% of Irish households are connected to the gas network and a further 18% of households are situated in areas which have access to the network. It should be noted that Ireland has a low population density with a large proportion of households living in rural areas, in contrast to the situation in other, more densely populated, European countries.
The Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) is the statutory, independent body, charged with the assessment and licensing of prospective operators seeking to develop and operate a gas distribution system within the State. I have no statutory function in relation to the connection of new towns or customers to the gas network.
In 2006 the CER approved a network connections policy which enabled reassessment of the feasibility of connecting certain towns to the gas network. In order for any town to be connected to the gas network, certain economic criteria need to be satisfied as a prerequisite.
This policy framework provides that, over a certain period, the costs of connecting a town, or group of towns, to the network are recouped through the actual economic consumption of gas and the associated tariffs. Uneconomic projects would increase costs for all energy consumers.
Prior to the roll out of gas to each town, a detailed analysis of the loads within the town and the revenues associated with them is carried out by Bord Gais Networks. There is also a requirement to secure a certain level of customers prior to the development commencing.
I am not aware of any publication by either the EU or the International Energy Agency (IEA) which provides information on the percentage of EU households that have access to natural gas networks.