Social Democrats Spokesperson on Energy and Climate Action, Deputy Whitmore has proposed an ambitious solar panel programme for 100,000 homes as part of the Party’s Alternative Budget launched this week. The solar panel programme would also benefit individual houses in Wicklow ‘by helping them to become more resilient to energy price and supply shocks’ according to Deputy Whitmore.
Speaking on the launch, Deputy Whitmore says, “The Government needs to urgently ramp-up investment in solar energy in next week’s budget. We need to see a strong focus on creating a more sustainable Ireland, allowing individual households to become more resilient to energy price and supply shocks.
“Our alternative budget calls on the Government to commit to installing solar panels on 100,000 homes over the next two years. This includes a proposal for an initial €200m fund to provide grants to households to install solar panels, which will help reduce emissions and cut electricity bills by an average of up to 40 percent over the course of a year.
“The initial tranche of funding should be targeted at low-income households, using the same eligibility criteria as the Warmer Homes Scheme. It is crucial that the installation of solar panels is provided free of charge to those most at risk of energy poverty. In addition to targeting 100,000 homes, we have also called for a doubling of the existing grant for solar panels. There should also be a parallel move to install solar panels on public buildings, including schools.
“Around one million homes in Ireland are suitable for solar panels but do not have them installed. This means many dozens of thousands of households in Wicklow could benefit from such a programme, helping those particularly vulnerable to energy price shocks, gain greater protection from future energy crisis.
“The lack of investment to date, however is a wasted opportunity as we grapple with skyrocketing energy costs and a climate emergency in the immediate term. It’s important that measures are put in place now, to benefit people as soon as possible as the future remains uncertain in the energy sector.
“Separately, the Government needs to look at adopting a more flexible approach when it comes to planning regulations surrounding solar panels. At present, planning permission depends on the size of a home’s roof, but these rules should be relaxed to reflect the urgent response that this crisis requires. I will be watching the Budget closely to see how it will help people in Wicklow who are struggling to face winter energy bills and the rising cost of living” concludes Whitmore.