Richard Bruton, the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, has given an assurance that applications submitted before the closing date for the Deep Retrofit Pilot Scheme “will be assessed”.

The minister was speaking after talks between himself and the chief executive of the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), Jim Gannon.

Commenting, the minister said: “This morning I asked the SEAI to process all applications for the deep retrofit pilot scheme which were received before the July deadline.

I can assure anyone who has submitted an application by the closing date that their application will be assessed and honoured in line with the existing terms and conditions of the scheme.

“The SEAI have assured me that they will immediately recommence evaluation of the applications on hand and I expect that letters of offer will begin to issue from early September 2019 to all eligible applicants. I would stress that works should not commence until you receive approval to proceed,” added Minister Bruton.

He continued: “Given the huge level of interest in this scheme, I believe that putting applications on hold while a new review is carried out is not providing enough certainty, given the huge amount of work and energy that home owners and contractors have done to bring applications to this point.”

Furthermore, the minister confirmed that the October deadline for completing retrofitting works will not apply, and that completion dates were likely to move into 2020 for new grants offered.

Minister Bruton said said that the grant scheme will be drawn down in installments, with the majority of the funding being drawn down in 2020.

The minister also announced the creation of a task force, led by his department’s general secretary, with the purpose of driving plans for retrofitting 500,000 homes under the Climate Action Plan.

“The retrofitting of 500,000 homes, to make them warmer and more energy efficient, is a key action under the Climate Action Plan. Not only will these upgrades help us deliver on our climate commitments, but they will result in cleaner, healthier, warmer homes and will save homeowners money through cheaper energy bills,” the minister argued.

According to the minister, this task force will be responsible for the following actions:

  • Designing a pilot to take place in 2020 in both an urban and a rural area to test the model;
  • Auditing the models that exist both in Ireland and internationally, for delivering energy efficiency measures by aggregating premises;
  • Designing smart finance options to leverage government funding to the best effect;
  • Designing the most appropriate tender for the delivery of the aggregated model;
  • Assessing the scope for easy pay models, e.g., an equivalent ‘bike to work’ scheme. Homeowners who choose to upgrade can expect lower energy bills, so there may also be potential for a scheme which allows for pay back through utility bills;
  • Consider how best to ensure a strong pipeline of talent, through apprenticeships, traineeships and upskilling, and how best to build a strong supply chain.