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Scandalous decision to redirect funding from retrofitting to fund new fossil fuel infrastructure - Darren O’Rourke TD

6 July, 2022 - by Darren O Rourke TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Climate Action, Darren O’Rourke TD, has criticised the government decision to redirect money allocated for retrofitting, to instead buy gas and diesel generators needed to meet a shortfall in electricity generation caused by data centres.

The Meath East TD said:

“Minister Ryan has now confirmed that €40 million in funding earmarked for retrofitting cold homes this year, will now instead be spent on purchasing new diesel- and gas-powered generators.

“These back-up electricity generators are required as our electricity generation capacity is at breaking point, due primarily to the demand coming from data centres.

“Data centres already use as much electricity as all the homes in rural Ireland combined and this is set to at least double by 2030, fuelled by government policy.

“Last week the government rushed through a piece of emergency legislation to allow EirGrid procure €350m worth of backup electricity generation to ensure we can keep the lights on in the winters ahead.

“The Minister confirmed today that €40m will be pulled from the 2022 retrofitting budget to help fund this and a further €30m will come from the National Broadband Plan budget.

“The Minister is trying to spin these as savings that can be reallocated. 

“These are not savings, they are missed targets.

“This decision will mean that fewer homes than previously planned will be retrofitted this year, and fewer households in rural Ireland will have access to high-speed broadband in 2022.

“To add insult to injury, households will also see around €40 added to their annual electricity bill, to help fund these generators. People will be paying on the double for these generators. It is a scandalous situation.

“This creative accounting also flies in the face of government claims that all revenue raised from increases in the carbon tax will be spent on climate action.

“Minister after Minister, including the Taoiseach, have insisted carbon tax revenue would be ring-fenced for investment in retrofitting, agri-climate schemes and social welfare supports. This move makes a mockery of their claims.”

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