Households and firms need to cut energy use from 5pm-7pm to ensure no winter shortages, Ryan says – The Irish Times

Irish households and businesses need to cut their reliance on energy during the peak evening hours this winter to help ensure the country does not face shortages, Minister for the Environment Eamon Ryan has said.

Addressing the issue of energy sourcing and generation shortfalls, Mr Ryan said everyone had a role in shoring up supply.

“We could all play our part, making sure that we don’t use energy between 5 and 7 o’clock in the evening,” he said in an RTE Prime Time interview on Tuesday.

“That’s the time when actually the last generator goes on. So if we can use some of our devices, in large industry or at home, those washing machines, dishwashers which can be done on a time basis, that actually is one of the best ways of getting through the winter.”

The Minister said Ireland was moving to increase generation capability for next winter, but for the coming months a reduction in use would have to be pursued. He said it “will be very tight” in terms of avoiding shortages.

On Friday, European energy ministers are due to meet in Brussels to discuss the looming crisis.

Mr Ryan, who will attend, said he would support proposals put forward by the Commission that would see excess revenues in power sectors outside of gas generation used to assist bill payers.

“It is a form of windfall tax that has the same effect in terms of taking excess profits, excess prices and bringing it back to the household,” he said.

On Tuesday it emerged that efficiencies were being planned for public sector buildings in a bid to cut usage – temperatures will be lowered to 19 degrees in some cases, but Mr Ryan said other measures such as turning off lights would have to be decided in individual situations, taking into account safety and other considerations.

Heating of public spaces would be capped but in a targeted way. In some cases, only parts of a building will be used.

“We’ll be asking the public sector to see, manage your people, your resources and your offices and your buildings,” Mr Ryan said.

The energy issue has created two problems: supply security and cost. Regarding mitigation measures for customer bills, the Minister said further measures would be coming.

“We’ve long flagged for this that we need in this autumn’s budget to do something similar – if not more and it will be more – to what we did last year,” he said.

“It will be a combination of the same social welfare measures we introduced last year to target those most at risk of fuel poverty, but also the likes of that energy credit which we gave into every single household,” he said, also acknowledging the need to address bills faced by businesses.

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