Tuesday, 20 September 2022
Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment
64. To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the best way communities can be supported by his Department including through the provision of grant aid for energy efficiencies such as solar panels. [45112/22]
The Communities Energy Grant (CEG) Scheme is designed to encourage and support home retrofit, as well as energy efficiency upgrades in commercial, public (including schools), community and voluntary sector facilities. All projects include a community benefit and include a cross-sectoral approach. The Scheme provides funding for a range of improvements to existing buildings. These include the installation of insulation, heat pump systems, replacement windows/doors, solar Photo-Voltaic technology, energy-efficient lighting, and energy monitors, as well as other energy upgrades.
Demand for the CEG Scheme has been very strong since the launch of this year’s Call for Projects in March. To date, 14 contracts with a grant value of over €35million have been issued by the SEAI (Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland) and a further 12 applications are currently under evaluation within the SEAI. All of which points to a strong pipeline of works under the scheme for the remainder of this year and into 2023.
In addition to the CEG Scheme, there are a range of Government supports for the installation of solar PV are available for homeowners and businesses of all sizes.
65. To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his plans to reduce the waiting times and backlog on the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland better energy warmer homes scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45777/22]
The Better Energy Warmer Homes Scheme delivers free energy upgrades for eligible homeowners in low-income households who are most at risk of energy poverty. It is administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). Since the start of the scheme in 2000, over 145,000 free upgrades have been supported by the scheme. Delivering free energy upgrades to low-income households and reducing the waiting times on the Warmer Homes Scheme waiting list is a top priority for me. In order to reduce this timeline to completion and target a monthly average of 400 completions this year, the following actions have already been taken:- The budget, at €109 million, is nearly three times the 2021 outturn of €38 million and funding has also been sought through the European Regional Development Fund;
- SEAI has been allocated additional staff for the Warmer Homes Scheme;
- SEAI is working to Increase contractor output through active contract engagement and management.
Latest data provided to my Department by the SEAI indicates that, for homes completed in 2022, the longest time waiting for a survey was 10 months, and the average cycle time from application to completion was 27.5 months. However, cycle times have been affected by COVID related issues. In addition, there are deeper measures being provided under the Scheme since 2018, which involve more substantive works. The average cost per upgrade has increased from €2,300 to €18,753 between 2017 to 2022 reflecting the levels of upgrade now being provided.
Progress is being made and the latest data on completions per month show that the average number of completions between June and August this year is just under the 400 homes target.
It is important to note that at the end of 2021, there were just over 7,000 homes on the Better Energy Warmer Homes waiting list. While the number has risen to over 9,000 at the end of August, the majority of these applications were received in the current year.
I want to see even higher output and reduced waiting times and I have asked the SEAI to redouble its efforts on this key Scheme and will provide every support I can to that end.