Carlinn Hall in Dundalk
Louth TD Ruairí Ó Murchú has welcomed the announcement that a steering group has been established at the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications to look at district heating systems, including Carlinn Hall in Dundalk.
The Sinn Féin deputy has raised the issue of spiralling heating costs for residents of Carlinn Hall a number of times in Leinster House this year.
Residents of the 200-home estate south of Dundalk town centre, were hit with massive hikes to their heating bills earlier this year, when the price of wholesale gas, which supplies the district, or communal, heating system in the development, skyrocketed.
Since the price hike, Deputy Ó Murchú says he has engaged with residents, gas suppliers, utility suppliers and the Department of Environment to try to find a resolution to the problem, which affects a number of other homes across the State, mainly apartment buildings.
In response to a parliamentary question asked by Deputy Ó Murchú about plans to deal with the issues with communal heating systems, Environment Minister Eamon Ryan said a District Heating Steering Group has been established. Minister Ryan said: “In line with the commitment in the Climate Action Plan 2021, a District Heating Steering Group has been established to resolve barriers to expansion of district heating.
“This Steering Group will ensure that there is a robust governance framework put in place for district heating, and it will also bring forward recommendations for an optimum regulatory framework, along with any legislation that may be required.
“Considerations in this regard will also encompass legacy district heating and local heating schemes that are already in operation in Ireland. The Steering Group has met on four occasions since its establishment in February 2022 and is expected to bring its report to Government in Q4 2022’.
In the Dáil chamber, Minister Ryan added: “Deputy Ó Murchú brought a similar issue in Louth to my attention. I am aware of the development in the Deputy's constituency. There are only a small number of such systems, but they have been badly hit by the impact of very high wholesale gas market prices.
“Our Department, through the steering group, will examine measures to explore what ways we can assist such developments to get out of what is now a high-priced system. It will not be an easy switch, but I am very much willing to investigate what policy levers we can seek to use in this regard.”
Deputy Ó Murchú said: “I welcome the establishment of this steering group and I welcome the engagement we have had with the department on the issue of Carlinn Hall in particular. “But with wholesale gas prices continuing at a high price, and with no sign of them coming down, the residents of Carlinn Hall are in dire need of a speedy resolution to their heating bills, which were astronomical earlier this year. There is a short reprieve for them because of the summertime, but winter is coming and they need answers before they are hammered again with huge and unaffordable bills.”
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