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Communities urged to consider sustainable energy options

A NEW scheme to support householders, farmers and community groups in producing and selling renewable electricity into the national grid is set to bring major benefits to Clare, according to the county’s Environmental Network Coordinator.

Theresa O’Donohoe, a former General Election candidate for People Before Profit, has urged people to have their say on the new Microgeneration Support Scheme, the outline of which was unveiled this week by environment minister, Eamonn Ryan. The initiative will allow people to generate their own renewable electricity, through, for example, solar panels on their roofs, and ensure they receive a fair price when they sell the excess into the grid.

“Run well, this initiative offers a whole new approach to rural regeneration and regional development while supporting the transition to a low carbon economy,” Ms O’Donohoe said. “If every community decided they would invest in solar panels on all the roofs, a small wind turbine or three beside the pitches, a water turbine in the stream, anaerobic digestion or whatever works locally, then they can use the profits to reinvest in their community. That’s good for our communities and good for our climate. If Clare, as a county, comes up with a strategy to generate more power than we use, we can profit from selling the surplus. With some planning we can make this work very well for us.”

Ms O’Donohoe also highlighted opportunities to set up Sustainable Energy Communities (SECs) across Clare. “Now is the time to establish SECs to get one foot on the ladder and begin the retrofitting process which will lower energy demand,” she said. “The West Clare Municipal District is moving in this direction. Lisdoonvarna is an SEC. I am delighted to see movement in this direction. For too long the government has subsidised, supported and rewarded industry -ed electricity generation while micro generation, by individuals and communities, has been ignored. This has been a missing piece of the puzzle and it will go a long way to encourage our communities to generate electricity. This is the climate action we need This consultation offers us the opportunity to shape the support offered so now is a good time to consider what we need as a county and ask for it.”

A statement issued this week by Minister Ryan urged people to take part in a consultation on how the scheme will operate. It outlined how micro-generators will primarily serve their own consumption needs but will be able to receive a payment for excess electricity exported back to the grid. As part of the design, micro-generators must have first met minimum energy efficiency requirements for their properties, the department added.

This public consultation phase will remain open until 5.30pm on February 18.

Submissions should be emailed to publicconsultation_mss@decc.gov.ie or  posted to MSS Consultation, Electricity Policy Division, Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications, 29-31 Adelaide Road, Dublin 2, Ireland. D02X285.

About Fiona McGarry

Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at NUI Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

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