Minister Bruton also announces new Retrofit Delivery Model to Replace Pilot Scheme
The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton T.D., this morning (Monday) met with the Chief Executive of the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, Jim Gannon, to discuss the next steps for the deep retrofit pilot scheme and the development of a new retrofitting model.
Following the meeting this morning, the Minister said:
"This morning I asked the SEAI to process all applications for the deep retrofit pilot scheme which were received before the July deadline. I can assure anyone who has submitted an application by the closing date that their application will be assessed and honoured in line with the existing terms and conditions of the scheme.
"The SEAI have assured me that they will immediately recommence evaluation of the applications on hand and I expect that letters of offer will begin to issue from early September 2019 to all eligible applicants. I would stress that works should not commence until you receive approval to proceed.
"Given the huge level of interest in this scheme, I believe that putting applications received on hold while a new review is carried out is not providing enough certainty given the huge amount of work and energy that home owners and contractors have done to bring applications to this point.
The Minister also assured contractors and home owners that the October deadline to complete retrofitting works will not apply, with completion dates likely to move into 2020 for new grants offered. The deep retrofit grant scheme will be drawn down in instalments as per the scheme, with the majority of funding being drawn down in 2020. The SEAI will now engage with contractors to communicate this message.
A New Retrofitting Model:
The Minister today also announced the establishment of a Taskforce, led by the Department's Secretary General, which will drive forward the government's plans to retrofit 500,000 homes under the Climate Action Plan.
The Minister said:
"The present range of programmes offered by the SEAI will not be adequate to the challenge of climate action. We need to move from individual and small scale initiatives to a much more scaled up model.
"The retrofitting of 500,000 homes, to make them warmer and more energy efficient, is a key action under the Climate Action Plan. Not only will these upgrades help us deliver on our climate commitments, but they will result in cleaner, healthier, warmer homes and will save homeowners money through cheaper energy bills.
"The new model will group home retrofits in the same area together to reduce costs, develop easy pay back mechanisms like through your electricity bill, and get access to new smart finance and loan options. This new model of retrofitting will be vital to achieve the target set out in the Climate Action Plan to deliver 500,000 homes.
"This decision will help to deliver further insights that will be useful in delivering on the objectives of the Climate Action Plan, will maintain contractor activity and support confidence in the retrofitting market.
The Taskforce which will drive the development of a new national delivery model, which will group homes together, create easy pay back mechanisms (e.g. through your electricity bill) and find smart financing. The Taskforce will:
• Design a pilot to take place in 2020 in both an urban and a rural area to test the model
• Audit the models that exist both in Ireland and internationally, for delivering energy efficiency measures by aggregating premises
• Design smart finance options to leverage government funding to the best effect
• Design the most appropriate tender for the delivery of the aggregated model
• Assess the scope for easy pay models e.g. an equivalent 'bike to work' scheme. Homeowners who choose to upgrade can expect lower energy bills so there may also be potential for a scheme which allows for pay back through utility bills
• Consider how best to ensure a strong pipeline of talent, through apprenticeships, traineeships and upskilling and how best to build a strong supply chain
The Task Force will be chaired by the Secretary General of the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment.
Notes to editor:
• The Deep Retrofit Pilot Scheme is funded by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment and operated by the SEAI.
• The scheme was launched as a time bound pilot to investigate the challenges and opportunities of deep retrofit in Ireland.
• The Pilot provides 50% funding for upgrades to homes to a A BER rating with 95% funding provided for low-income households. The total budget for the scheme this year is €10m – double the amount spent on the scheme last year.
• The pilot was intended to run for 3 years and the scheme closed for applications on 19 July in line with the published Terms and Conditions.