IFA Environment and Rural Affairs Chairman Paul O’Brien said that a percentage of the Public Service Obligation (PSO) levy must to set aside for community-owned renewable projects.
The PSO levy is a subsidy charged to all electricity customers. The 2020/2021 levy is entirely dedicated to renewable electricity supports and will be a key factor in meeting national targets for renewable electricity generation.
Paul O’Brien said that IFA is looking for a percentage of the PSO levy to be allocated to community- owned renewable projects.
“The benefits from community-owned renewable energy projects are well known. They provide substantially greater economic benefits and job creation within the community and reduce the concentration of economic power of commercial utilities in the electricity business,” he said.
He said that allocating a percentage of the PSO levy to community-owned projects would provide essential support to help community groups at the initial stages of development, feasibility, planning as well as construction. It will also ensure that community energy projects are recognised as a priority within renewable energy development.
He said repeated studies have shown that community ownership, is strongly co-related with local acceptance. That is because community-owned energy projects create new income streams. This is especially true for rural areas, where energy project can strengthen the regional value-added chain; create alternative income streams for farmers; and foster rural development.