27 Sept 2022

€8 billion retrofit scheme is 'wonderful news for the Midlands' claims Laois Offaly Minister

€8 billion retrofit scheme is 'wonderful news for the Midlands'  claims Laois Offaly Minister

Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture Pippa Hackett

Laois Offaly based Minister of State Pippa says the Government's new retrofit plan is 'wonderful news' for Laois and other counties in the Midlands as it will cut bills and create jobs.

In a statement, Minister Pippa Hackett said she warmly welcomed the Government’s announcement of a package of supports which she claimed would make it easier and more affordable for homeowners to undertake home energy upgrades, for warmer, healthier and more comfortable homes, with lower energy bills.

She said the measures address barriers to undertaking energy upgrades (retrofits) reported by homeowners and those working in the industry. She added that they also reflect the step-change needed – in pace and scale of delivery – to achieve the Government target of 500,000 home energy upgrades, to B2 Building Energy Rating (BER) standard, by 2030.

Minister Hackett pointed out that the changes represent an important step in delivery of the National Retrofit Plan, which identifies a range of measures aimed at driving demand for retrofit, expanding the size and capacity of the supply chain, as well as making retrofits more affordable.

“This is wonderful news for the Midlands.  Many of our social homes are already retrofitted because of our special status in transitioning away from fossil fuels, so we have seen the benefit of such work, and now, today’s announcements opens the retrofitting option to many more homeowners. 

"The size of the grants will put the work within reach of many lower-income families, with credit unions expected to offer loans for the homeowners’ contribution. It’s a huge investment in cutting our heating bills and reducing our dependency on fossil fuels which people have been calling on the Government to deliver.  Now we are.

"This development will also create new jobs for skilled tradesmen. That represents another opportunity for this area, given that we already have a Centre of Excellence for retrofitting training right here in the Laois-Offaly ETB,” said the Senator.

The Minister outlined the key measures as follows:

  • A new National Home Energy Upgrade Scheme providing increased grant levels of up to 50% of the cost of a typical deep retrofit to a B2 BER standard (up from 30%-35% grants currently)
  • One Stop Shops to offer a hassle-free, start-to-finish project management service, including access to financing, for home energy upgrades
  • A significant increase in the number of free energy upgrades for those at risk of energy poverty (400 per month – up from an average of 177 per month in 2021)
  • A special enhanced grant rate, equivalent to 80% of the typical cost, for attic and cavity wall insulation for all households, to urgently reduce energy use as part of the Government’s response to current exceptionally high energy prices
  • An Exchequer investment of €8 billion to 2030 will enable the supply chain to scale up, creating thousands of high quality jobs and delivering on this critical national objective
  • The Schemes will be administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). The increased grant supports and the significant ramping up of free energy upgrades for those at risk of energy poverty is supported by ring-fenced funds from the carbon tax.

She also outlined what she said are the main features of the Government's announcement on February 8:

New Home Energy Upgrade Scheme – to transform your home

Increased grant rates and supports for step-by-step home upgrades

Free home energy upgrade: Protecting people at most risk of energy poverty

Grants, equivalent to 80% of the typical cost, for attic and cavity wall insulation

Community schemes: Improving buildings across the country

Long-term funding commitment: Providing certainty for the home energy upgrade sector

National climate action goals

Speaking at the launch of the new National Home Energy Upgrade Scheme, the Taoiseach, Micheál Martin T.D., said: “Today, the Government is committing to support people in making their homes warmer and less expensive to heat, while also tackling our climate change crisis. The Irish people responded collectively, and with a sense of purpose, to the pandemic by helping protect the most vulnerable in our society. The climate crisis is just as critical for our children and future generations, as well as people at risk of fuel poverty now. This Government’s commitment to reaching our climate ambitions is clear, and today is another step along that journey.”

The Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar T.D., said: “This scheme will create thousands of jobs in every county in the country making homes warmer, more comfortable and healthier. I’m glad to see the move towards a much more streamlined, customer focused model, with the One Stop Shops making it much easier for people to see what they need to do and how they can get funding. The long term commitment of Government funding and our investment in apprenticeships and skills training will allow the industry to build capacity, as well as all other aspects of the supply chain.”

The Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications and Transport, Eamon Ryan T.D., said: “The urgent nature of the climate crisis and the energy price crisis means that we must act to reduce our energy use and to reduce the cost of heating our homes. The unprecedent commitment from the Government, and indeed all politicians in Ireland, to focus on improving our homes as a centre-piece of climate action is demonstrated here today. We have a 30-year task of transforming our homes. Today’s launch is the one of the key steps we need to take to insulate ourselves from international price volatility and the geopolitics of international energy markets.”

Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, Chief Executive Officer, William Walsh said: “SEAI, through Government funding, has already supported 450,000 home energy upgrades. Today’s announcement by the Government demonstrates its commitment to assisting homeowners by making home energy upgrades more accessible and affordable. Through these new measures we look forward to supporting homeowners to achieve a warmer, cosier home, with lower energy bills, while also helping to achieve Ireland’s ambitious climate targets.”

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