05 Jul 2022

Communal gas bills "through the roof" in Dundalk says local TD

Some residents’ bills increased from ‘a couple of hundred euro to almost €700’

Communal gas bills "through the roof" in Dundalk says local TD

Carlinn Hall in Dundalk

A communal heating scheme at a housing estate in Dundalk has been raised in the Dáil after it was revealed that some residents’ bills have gone from "a couple of hundred euro to almost €700" in the last two months.

Louth TD Ruairí Ó Murchú, raised the matter with Minister Michael McGrath at Questions on Promised Legislation, informing the minister that the group heating scheme was "inefficient" and residents were being charged "commercial, not residential gas rates".

The Carlinn Hall development was launched in 2007 by Green Party leader Eamon Ryan and was billed as ‘the estate of the future’ with A-rated homes and a communal heating scheme, initially provided by biomass. However, with the economic crash, Carlinn Hall was a ghost estate with a small number of homeowners living there until recent years, when the 200-home estate was completed.

The estate was initially beset with problems with the biomass heating and sewerage issues, but the latest problem is related to the communal gas heating system.

Deputy Ó Murchú told Minister McGrath that Energia are the providers and he has already been in touch with them about the fact that residents’ bills have rocketed in recent months. One example provided to Deputy Ó Murchú showed how the bill for one house was €59.10 on August 18, rising to €67.99 for the October 22 bill, going up to €208.16 for the December 16 and hitting a massive €374.69 for the February 15 bill.

He said he had received numerous complaints from residents. He said he understands that not only is the communal heating system "sending bills through the roof", it is also "extremely inefficient" with 50% of the heat generated being lost before it reaches the homes.

Energia charges Frontline Energy a commercial rate for the gas which is passed onto home consumers, who are, the TD said, "losing out on the double with the high prices and the inefficient system."

In the Dáil, the Sinn Féin TD called for the Commission for the Regulation of Utilities (CRU) to have a responsibility in this area and for prices charged for gas to communal heating schemes, such as the one at Carlinn Hall, to be capped. He said he is working with his colleagues Deputy Darren O’Rourke and Deputy Eoin Ó Bróin on the matter.

Deputy Ó Murchú said: "We need solutions for the people in Carlinn Hall in the short term, along with a cap on gas, as well as engagement on building regulations and additional powers for the Commission for the Regulation of Utilities."

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