Fine Gael Senator Anthony Lawlor raised in the Seanad (27/09/2018) that the PSO levy for our electricity usage and virtually all of the money is going to bigger businesses. And that 20% of the levy should be diverted to community and farming micro-generation.

The Public Service Obligation (PSO) Levy is a tariff imposed by the government on all electricity users. The proceeds of this Levy are used to cover the additional costs associated with producing sustainable and renewable energy in Ireland.

Certain thermal power stations and wind farms are supported by the Levy. This kind of power is more expensive to produce than electricity produced by traditional means, but these energy sources are better for the environment, and therefore more desirable.

Senator Lawlor said: “There is huge potential in the farming sector, as farmers have many sheds and facilities which could accommodate solar panels to generate electricity. “

“As far as I can see, the problems are the inability of ESB Networks to allow farmers already involved in micro-generation to access the national grid and PSO Levy availability. Small operators are delayed in getting access to the grid.  This is also a disincentive for farmers considering using this technology for micro-generation”

“Farmers interested in micro-generation need more flexibility from ESB Networks.  Using existing agricultural buildings fitted with solar PV panels is good business and a further way for farmers to support Government renewable energy targets.  It reduces the cost of production which increases revenue for the farming community while benefitting consumers and the environment. “

Under the 2009 Renewable Energy Directive, Ireland is committed to producing from renewable sources at least 16% of all energy consumed by 2020. This will be met by 40% from renewable electricity, 12% from renewable heat and 10% from the renewable transport sector.

Minister for Communication, Climate Action and Environment Denis Naughton who launched a pilot Micro Generation scheme in July 2018 said: “The pilot scheme will be subject to a 6 month review at which time the costs of installation will be assessed and further opportunities to broaden this scheme to other groups and other technologies will be explored.

“As we move towards a smarter grid, and a market that rewards increased participation of individuals and businesses, programmes such as this will help us to define the best pathway to a lower carbon future.”