Saoirse McHugh, Green Party MEP candidate for the Midlands-North-West constituency, is leading a call for the government to assist communities in developing their own renewable energy sources.
“About a million euros a year leaves Achill just in electricity bills, imagine the good it could do rural communities if that money stayed in the communities,” the Green Party candidate for Midlands-North-West Saoirse McHugh pointed out.
“We need to develop policy and systems which allow communities to develop their own renewable energy projects and sell the energy back onto the grid,” explains McHugh. “If every community in Ireland had it’s own energy co-operative think of the wealth it would put back into communities. If we don’t call for this we allow enormous corporations to commodify our energy supply and then sell it back to us forever.”
Community-owned energy initiatives are a way to rebalance power and money in Ireland. Community ownership will also help with public support for renewables. “It’s no surprise people are opposed to windmills going up when they make power for someone who lives nowhere nearby, and money for someone who’ll never visit,” says McHugh. “Not a single euro from taxpayers should finance fossil fuels. Europe must phase out coal by 2030 and other fossil fuels, including gas, as soon as possible thereafter. Nuclear power and fracking have no role to play in the clean energy future.”
In 2017 the Green Party introduced the Community Energy Bill in the Dáil. That bill is at the second stage in the Dáil. Through this legislation, the party’s change the way energy is produced and owned in Ireland.
The bill is based on Danish legislation and offers the opportunity to localise the ownership of and the benefits of renewable energy production in the communities where these resources are situated. This bill will ensure renewable energy developers cannot access planning permission unless they offer 30% of the project to the local community.
Saoirse McHugh will appear on tonight’s RTE Prime Time debate. The programme starts at 9:35pm.
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