Clare County Council’s potential to become a Sustainable Energy Community (SEC) was explored at a recent sitting of the Rural Development SPC.
Sustainable Energy Authority Ireland (SEAI) mentor Gearoid Fitzgibbon demonstrated the benefit to Clare County Council in establishing itself as an SEC, stressing that each SPC Agenda going forward should include a standing item for climate change and biodiversity.
The Community Energy Mentor also analysed the period between 2010-2020 for two not-for-profit social enterprises in Tipperary that secured €20m in investment for their county, with over 2,300 homes upgraded and over 50 community centres and facilities upgraded as well as the equivalent of 500 jobs created through retrofits.
“This has been a missed opportunity for Clare County Council in the last 10 years,” he intoned, listing only six Local Authorities that have established themselves as SECs nationwide, alongside two towns. A 100 per cent funded county level Energy Master Plan (EMP) is provided by the SEAI, of which Gearoid encouraged CCC to tour through and explore what is available.
Of the 135 SECs within the SEAI’s Mid-west and South-West Networks which Clare falls under, a range of mentor expertise is available, including a team of eight members and one regional co-ordinator. Gearoid asserted that is it a question of partnership and should be made a critical priority in order to “stop the leaking of money out of the economy.”
Cllr. Cillian Murphy (FF) added the example of the Loop Head community where an EMP uncovered that a total of €7 or 8m was leaving the local economy per annum due to the use of fossil fuels.
“Clare County Council can be a leader in this area,” Gearoid stressed, adding that a drawdown retrofit funding as well as a grant of €25,000 from the SEAI could kickstart the transition of CCC into a SEC.