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Deputy Michael Collins

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Michael Collins

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Snippet Contents:

I congratulate the Minister, Deputy Denis Naughten, on his appointment as Minister for Communication, Energy and Natural Resources. I have no doubt that he will be an excellent Minister.
While the Energy Bill makes some positive advancements, I worry that it fails to make any mark on energy generation in Ireland. It should have included provisions to ensure the wholesale purchasers of energy would be liable to pass on savings to domestic customers. While Vayu Energy which supplies gas to over 20% of Ireland's industrial and commercial market has stated businesses benefit from falling gas prices, this is not being mirrored at domestic customer level. Suppliers state they cannot pass on the benefit of price falls, given that they buy so far in advance; however, they can be very quick to pass on price increases. I call on the Minister to consider putting in place legislation to ensure all energy companies operating in the domestic market will be obliged to pass on energy savings to their customers. The impacts of climate change are devastating for millions of men, women and children who are living in poverty in developing countries. Livelihoods and lives are being lost to more frequent droughts and floods. As the Minister is aware, the impact of increasingly unpredictable weather conditions is also being felt at home. As one of the highest emitters of carbon dioxide per capita among our industrialised peers, Ireland cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that we are fuelling the crisis.
Moneypoint coal-fired power station is Ireland's largest single source of carbon emissions, burning 2.5 million tonnes of American coal per year. I urge the Minister to consider converting it to a sustainable biomass plant. That would help to deliver on Ireland's 2020 renewable electricity targets cheaply with only limited modifications required to the existing plant. By switching to sustainable biomass, Ireland's major potential to supply cost competitiveness and sustainable biomass could be unlocked. The move would guarantee a secure, long-term demand for Irish biomass which would create a more stable income for farmers and foresters. Making the change would offer a more positive investment in the rural economy and be an incredible economy and an effective strategy for Irish agriculture to fight climate change.
Broadband and mobile phone coverage are within the Minister's brief. As he is aware, the importance of the digital economy cannot be underestimated. Broadband is a major resource for businesses and there are significant growth opportunities for businesses and online trade.