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Fuel poverty: government Bill amended

On the fourth, report stage of the Energy (miscellaneous provisions) Bill, 2012, the government introduced an amendment to the energy efficiency fund to include a specific remit of alleviating energy poverty (Dail Eireann, Debates, 18th January 2012, 15-17).  Earlier, Martin Ferris (SF, Kerry N) had pressed the minister with an amendment along these lines so as to be of help to older people living in rural and isolated areas and others on low income who could not adequately heat their homes.  The Minister for Communications, Energy & Natural Resources, Pat Rabbitte explained that §14 of the Bill included an energy efficiency fund providing for contributions from energy suppliers to be reinvested in energy efficiency.  The 2012 allocation of the energy poverty strand of the better energy programme was €17m, which would help some 17,000 low-income households.  The Programme for government had signaled the intention to move away from grants by the end of 2013 and toward a pay-as-you-save system and he intended to bring a memorandum to government on this.  


Later, the minister told the Dail that the government was introducing changes to the Warmer homes scheme to give priority to households in extreme energy poverty (spending over 20% disposable income on energy) (Dail Eireann, Debates, 18th January 2012, 47-8).  This did not meet with the approval of Eamon O Cuiv (FF, Galway W) who expressed his disappointment with what he called the narrowing of the scheme: ‘anyone with an inefficient house and a low income should be assisted’.