The admission by Minister Eamon Ryan recently that there will be a four to five per cent rise in overall electricity prices is very worrying, according to Mayo Labour candidate Jerry Cowley, particularly considering the minister is making such little headway ensuring energy efficiency programmes proceed, he said.
"There is still no sign of the National Retro-fit Programme as promised with much fanfare in the last Budget, for which €50 million was allocated but not one cent has yet been spent on the scheme”, added Dr Cowley.
“This is the time of year when people get insulation fitted in their homes but they will not be able to get the grant aids promised as the scheme has disappeared without trace. We don't even know what is envisaged for the much vaunted insulation programmes.
"We do know that in 2009 there was an underspend of approximately €35 million and because of the Minister's failure to spend the funds it was sent back to the Department of Finance.
“Approximately €95 million had been set aside for much needed energy efficiency programmes in 2009. Just €55 million was spent. This is a scandal when you consider how many older people and people on low incomes are living in sub-standard housing around the country.
"We must not underestimate the impact of the increase in electricity prices on households that are already struggling to cope with their utility bills. At this time of economic hardship it is a serious blow."