Dec 16, 2014
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if his Department has received proposals from the private or public sector to generate energy from wave power in the County Waterford offshore area.
REPLY (Minister Alex White):
Wave and tidal energy is still at the research, development and demonstration stage globally. While promising experimental devices have been developed, much research, development and demonstration is required to bring wave energy technology to commercial viability.
Policy action to develop the wave energy sector in Ireland, and realise the potential of this abundant indigenous resource, is being led by my Department through the implementation of the Offshore Renewable Energy Development Plan.
Any proposals for the development of wave energy require consent under the Foreshore Acts. This is a matter for my colleague the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government. Financial support for the development of wave energy devices is available from the Prototype Fund administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI).
While the technical appraisal of individual project proposals is a matter for these bodies, my Department engages with interested parties in the context of its ongoing implementation of wave energy policy and its remit to facilitate the development of the sector.
No proposals in relation to wave power generation in County Waterford have been received in my Department, nor as I understand matters, have any been received in the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government or the SEAI.
Dec 16, 2014
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the costs of importing fossil fuels to Ireland for the past five years; his views on the increasing costs and the effect that this will have on competitiveness for businesses here, and the increasing costs to households; the measures he will take to reduce these costs and improve Ireland’s competitiveness; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
REPLY (Minister Alex White):
I and my Department are acutely aware of the financial challenges faced by families and businesses from high electricity prices. However, it is important to note that the electricity and gas markets are commercial, liberalised, and competitive and that they operate within national and European regulatory regimes.
I have no statutory function in the setting or review of electricity prices. Responsibility for electricity and gas market regulation is a matter for the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER), which is an independent statutory body.
Comprehensive data on fossil fuel prices is available in the recently published Energy in Ireland 1990-2013 report. This is published by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) and is available on their website.
At a national level, electricity and gas prices are no longer regulated by CER. The competitive energy market results in choices for consumers and businesses in terms of suppliers, products and prices and exerts downward pressure on prices.
The reduction in wholesale gas prices since the beginning of 2014 has led to reductions in the wholesale electricity price. These reductions should have a knock on impact on retail prices and are reflected in the latest Eurostat figures, published by the SEAI on the 9 December 2014 in their report Electricity and Gas Prices in Ireland.
The report shows that all business consumption bands in both electricity and gas experienced reductions in average prices in the first half of 2014, ranging from 0.7% to 4% in electricity and 6.7% to 12.9% in gas.
Similarly, Eurostat figures show a reduction of 5.7% in the average price of gas in the residential consumption band with the largest share of the market, while the average price of electricity in the residential consumption band with the largest share experienced a reduction of 1.3%.
Consumers can try to mitigate electricity and gas prices by shopping around to get the best possible price and service deal from suppliers and I would encourage them to do so. Measures such as comparison websites, approved by the CER, exist to assist them in this endeavour.
April 9, 2014
Deputy John Deasy asked tthe Minister for Health the position regarding the proposed primary care centre for Dungarvan, County Waterford; if progress has been made in securing a PPP partner; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Reply by Minister of State Alex White: Considerable progress has been made in developing the primary care centre PPP project. The HSE lodged the planning application for the Dungarvan primary care centre in November 2013 and has been advised that planning has been approved. Details are available on the local authority website.
The National Development Finance Agency (NDFA) published a Prior Indicative Notice (PIN) / Pre-Qualification Questionnaire in the OJEU on 19 December 2013. Four submissions were received by the closing date which was 10 March 2014.
Information can be located at the following web address: http://www.ndfa.ie/TenderCompetitions/PrimaryCareCentresPPPProgramme.htm
It is expected that 10-14 sites (indicative number 12 based on affordability) will be delivered as part of a single PPP contract with the remaining centres to be delivered by the HSE using other procurement means.
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Health his plans he has to extend the provision of additional services in Primary Care Centres to deliver more medical treatment at community level and ease pressure in public hospitals; and if he will outline the types of services that could be extended to these centres.
REPLY / Minister of State Alex White:
The development of primary care is central to the Government's objective to deliver a high quality, integrated and cost effective health system and is a key element of the overall Health Reform Programme. This includes the development of Primary Care Teams (PCTs) and Primary Care Centres (PCCs). The core objective is to achieve a more balanced health service by ensuring that the vast majority of patients and clients who require urgent or planned care are managed within primary and community based settings. This will be achieved by increasing activity in the primary care setting and redirecting services away from acute hospitals to the community.
The development of primary care centres, through a combination of public and private investment, will facilitate the delivery of multi-disciplinary primary health care.
It is the Government’s intention to develop as many primary care centres as possible using one of the following methods:
Considerable progress has been made in the delivery of primary care centres and 34 centres have opened since May 2011.
The establishment of Community Intervention Teams (CITs) is an example of delivering services appropriate for care in the home/community. These Teams work in partnership with PCTs, General Practice, Community Hospitals, home support services, acute hospitals and other professionals, to deliver enhanced services and patient centred care in the most appropriate setting. The benefits of CITs include:
There are currently 7 functioning CITs nationally, with further developments and expansions planned in 2014. The number of patient referrals to CITs in 2013 was 21,493.
Other services scheduled for transfer to Primary Care Centres include the following and these will be progressed further by the HSE during 2014:
The above are examples of routine clinical activity targeted for transfer from acute hospitals to primary care in the short to medium term as the Primary Care Centre infrastructure is developed.