Sunday 18 August 2019

Hundreds to lose out on energy upgrade grant as funds dry up

Criticism: Ciarán Cuffe said it made a ‘mockery’ of the Climate Action Plan. Picture: Frank McGrath
Criticism: Ciarán Cuffe said it made a ‘mockery’ of the Climate Action Plan. Picture: Frank McGrath
Laura Lynott

Laura Lynott

Hundreds of homeowners who applied for energy-efficiency grants of up to €60,000 will lose out after the scheme ran out of funding without notice.

The pilot scheme was launched by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment to enable homeowners to upgrade their properties while improving energy efficiency.

However, Ciarán Cuffe, Green Party MEP for Dublin, said the fact the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) pilot grant had been closed off to the public "makes a mockery of the Government's climate commitments".

"The Government should make the funding available, so we can continue to fund these energy upgrades," he added.

The SEAI provided up to 50pc of the cost of retrofitting homes, which can run to more than €100,000.

More than 300 homeowners who had been awaiting grant approval won't receive the funding. The SEAI said it would give grants only to projects that had already been approved to carry out retrofits of older housing to improve their energy rating.

But applications made before the July 19 deadline that hadn't been approved will not be eligible.

The grant allocation rose from €4.7m to €7m in 2018 and there was a further hike in applications this year - 120 properties were upgraded in 2017 and 139 in 2018.

Paddy Phelan, CEO of energy company 3CEA in Kilkenny, said more than 100 home and business owners across the south-east - who had invested a minimum of €2,500 on expert help on preparatory work - had been "abandoned".

Mr Phelan said there was "no indication or communication that funds were running out or had run out".

An SEAI spokesman said: "SEAI and DCCAE will now undertake a review of the pilot. This review is likely to extend well into 2020.

"There was strong, sustained demand for the pilot programme as a direct result of the increased, positive dialogue across Irish society regarding climate change.

"Now the Deep Retrofit Pilot is closed, in-depth evaluations of completed houses will, in time, provide insights which will in turn inform future policy interventions towards achieving our climate action ambitions.

"These may include different financial incentives."

A spokesperson from the Department of the Environment said in June a notification had been received from the SEAI noting the closing date for the scheme, and "making proposals in relation to next steps for the scheme".

The department said engaged with the SEAI in relation to that submission. The evaluation of this pilot would inform development of the new model.

Irish Independent

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