Sinn Féin Councillor Conor D. McGuinness has given a cautious welcome to the public consultation on a proposed new micro-generation scheme. He made the comments at the January meeting of Waterford City and County Council. He said any micro generation scheme brought forward by Government mush be accessible to low and middle-income families as well as high-earners. McGuinness has been lobbying for greater supports for microgeneration and has made submissions on the matter to both the Southern Regional Assembly and as part of the Waterford Development Plan process.
“Microgeneration of energy offers a more horizontal, democratic and sustainable way of generating electricity at local level. Its becoming the norm across much of the developed world, and is a strong alternative to coal-burning power plants, nuclear energy and colossal wind farms.
“It usually involves making electricity through small scale wind-turbines or solar panels on homes, farms or public buildings. That electricity is then used in the building, and excess is sold back to the national grid for use elsewhere. I have been lobbying for a commitment to micro-generation to be included in the forthcoming City and County Development Plan that is currently being drafted, and for Waterford to be a leader in championing a fair and socially just approach to climate action.
“We have been waiting a long time for some movement on this issue. In fact it is almost four years since Sinn Féin introduced its Micro-generation Support Bill. While I welcome that Government have begun a public consultation on this issue, I am concerned given the historical failure of both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael to support micro-generation.
“The Green Party track record on water charges and carbon taxes shows that they have no issue with passing the cost of climate action on to ordinary households, while we spend public money on fines to facilitate huge corporate polluters. They need to get this one right. A botched scheme will hurt ordinary workers and families, and will do little to address climate change.
“Micro-generation works when its accessible to all household types, and where barriers, including financial barriers, are avoided through responsive and well thought-out public policy. For this scheme to work it needs to be accessible to ordinary people and families. Sinn Féin will be making a submission as part of the consultation, and I have asked that Waterford Council does likewise.