Percentage of PSO levy should go towards community-owned energy projects – IFA

The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) has said that a percentage of the Public Service Obligation (PSO) levy must be set aside for community-owned renewable energy projects.

The PSO levy is a subsidy charged to all electricity customers.

The 2020/2021 levy is entirely dedicated to renewable electricity supports and will be a key factor in meeting national targets for renewable electricity generation.

IFA Environment and Rural Affairs Committee chairman Paul O’Brien said that a percentage of the PSO levy should be allocated to community-owned renewable projects.

“The benefits from community-owned renewable energy projects are well known. They provide substantially greater economic benefits and job creation within the community and reduce the concentration of economic power of commercial utilities in the electricity business,” he said.

He said that allocating a percentage of the PSO levy to community-owned projects would provide essential support to help community groups at the initial stages of development, feasibility, planning as well as construction.

It will also ensure that community energy projects are recognised as a priority within renewable energy development.

O’Brien said repeated studies have shown that community ownership is strongly co-related with local acceptance. That is because community-owned energy projects create new income streams.

“This is especially true for rural areas, where energy projects can strengthen the regional value-added chain; create alternative income streams for farmers; and foster rural development,” he concluded.