Thomas Pringle TD

Pringle: Renewable infrastructure must come with creation of state-owned energy service

Pringle: Renewable infrastructure must come with creation of state-owned energy service

Independent TD for Donegal, Thomas Pringle, said development of renewable infrastructure must come with an improved grid and the creation of a state-owned and state-operated energy service that benefits all the households of the country.

Addressing the Dáil on Wednesday, Deputy Pringle said the policy statement on Government commitments on offshore renewable energy “lacks any real detail and its commitments are vague and unclear.

“The first line states: ‘In response to the unjustified Russian aggression against Ukraine and the resulting twin energy price and security of supply crises across Europe, the Government is accelerating the roll-out of offshore renewable energy.’

“This is absolutely ridiculous. Are the government trying to suggest that they are only prioritising offshore renewable energy because of the war in Ukraine? It seems that everything these days is done in the name of the war and not for the good of our citizens or the environment. We should be investing in renewable energy because it is the right thing to do and because it will create a better environment for our children and the generations that will come after. This alone is reason enough to be doing it.

“While the war in Ukraine may be a contributing motivation to renewable infrastructure, I think it is important that the Government expressly recognise the urgency in its own right, apart from the current war,” he said.

The deputy was speaking on the motion re Proposed Approval by Dáil Éireann of the Government Commitments on Offshore Renewable Energy.

Deputy Pringle said: “Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, it is overdue that the Government take back our services into state ownership as well. Should this proceed, this offers a fantastic opportunity to build a state-owned electricity service. We can use it as a vehicle to create more apprenticeships, skills and employment while we utilise our capacity to generate vast amounts of renewable energy. The time for privatisation of public services has and should have ended.

“Further to that point, I note the target of 2 gigawatts of floating offshore wind for additional non-grid use. I am cautious of any potential moves to privatise the resource and would like to take this opportunity to urge the government to ensure that all offshore wind is created for national use.”

The deputy said the grid must be upgraded, saying, “As it stands it is not fit for purpose.” He said he was glad the motion stated that any development must be in consultation with eco and habitat research to ensure mitigation of possible damage to habitats, flora, fauna and marine life.

Deputy Pringle said: “This policy statement lacks any mention of households or domestic users and so I would ask: What are Irish households getting out of this and what will they get out of it? It seems that Irish households are increasingly getting less while large energy consumers continue to get more. In the last five years we have seen a massive increase in large energy users in the State, with a 285% increase in electricity usage by large energy users, which was being subsidised by the State.”

The deputy said: “I would urge the government to make sure as well that the north west is not left behind. Killybegs is ideally positioned to help with the development of more offshore energy as the town has immediate access to the highest offshore wind speeds in Europe and Donegal should be given the opportunity to avail of the benefits of this energy. Before this can happen, however, we need to update the electricity network and the infrastructure in the north west as well.

“I welcome the development of renewable infrastructure, but it must come with an improved grid and the creation of a state-owned and state-operated energy service and all the households of the country should benefit equally from this as well,” he said.