Friday, September 09, 2022

Vivienne Clarke

Minister for the Environment Eamon Ryan has said the Government will do everything it can “to keep the lights on” this winter.

The first priority is helping people pay their energy bills, he told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland.

Mr Ryan was speaking in advance of a meeting of European energy ministers where proposals will be made to forge a united response to rising energy costs as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The Green Party leader said he thought there would be agreement on three proposals – the first of which is to take “some” of the excess profits of the energy suppliers and “recycle” that money to help householders pay their energy bills.

The second proposal is for some of the “unearned” profits from gas markets to be used to assist householders through a cap on international gas sales and the third proposal is to reduce peak demand.

When asked about the possibility of a cap on prices similar to that proposed in Britain, Mr Ryan pointed out that in the end “someone” would have to pay for the cap, either through taxation or borrowing.

He said how the excess profits of energy companies were treated was important, as they had come about because of the war. That profit needed to be delivered back to householders and businesses, he said.

On the lack of storage facilities in Ireland for liquid natural gas, Mr Ryan said the green approach was the best way and any measures had to be in the interest of the Irish people, not just any one developer.

The Minister said he believed there would be storage and that Ireland would have energy security despite the tight gap between supply and demand. It had been the same last year and the country had come through.

But he cautioned “we can’t guarantee anything.”

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