People’s Charter for Renewable Energy (PCRE)
Monday February 10th 2014, Tailors Hall
Attending: Theresa, Fand, Emer, Aedin, David, Graham, Kate, Joe, Michael, Marita, Martin, Ian, Franzistra, Paul
Apologies: Phil, Chris U, Chris C,
The meeting started with a brief recap of the event in Portlaoise, noting it was attended by people representing a broad range of diversity and experience. That event concluded with many asking….’what next?’
Defining element – the ‘peoples’ charter needs to be written by ‘the people’. How do we spread the word and awareness so that people take part?
Since that event there have been a number of calls asking for a review of the national energy policy – so, what do we do next to ensure we can effectively participate if and when the policy is being reviewed?
There was a discussion about the name. The consensus was that the name is likely to change slightly, possibly to ‘people’s charter for energy’ or ‘people’s energy charter’ in order to reflect the requirement for energy efficiency as well as generation etc. A logo is also required – could anyone who can suggest or assist in developing a logo let Theresa know.
Here is a one question survey to help select the name – please have your say: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/6BSN8S5
– Fundamental parameters:
The 4 initial basic parameters were agreed as being retained. 3 further additions were suggested giving the following total goals of the charter;
(i) Communities must be involved (this applies to towns and cities as well as rural communities).
(ii) Renewable energy needs to be developed to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels
(iii) Fuel poverty needs to be addressed, guided by the principles of equality
(iv) Climate change must be addressed
(V) energy efficiency must be promoted (new suggestion)
(Vi) energy security must be ensured (new suggestion)
(Vii) policy must aim for net carbon neutral outcomes – I.e. Other forms of car bon capture and sequestration matter and need to be identified and pro moted. (new suggestion)
(Viii) strategy should focus on maximum benefit for minimum or least intrusive infrastructure build (post meeting suggestion)
There was a discussion about how to go about selecting any further parameters. It was generally agreed that parameters should be high level (at this stage they should not involve any targets or technical detail) and should be inclusive, I.e. Aim to include and engage as many people as possible and not alienate or exclude people.
The general approach to be taken was discussed and it was agreed that this network would act as a conduit for people to comment on a draft energy policy. (Grass roots approach).
– Advice on legal issues
Andrew Jackson attended to brief the meeting on the EU petitions committee and the Irish equivalent. Thanks to Andrew for his time.
– Government White Paper on Energy
There was a discussion about how to engage in the development of government energy policy. The government is currently drafting a green paper on energy and it was suggested that we need to engage in this process. It was agreed generally that we need to engage in this process as early as possible (I.e. Now – at scoping stage) or risk having the scope already narrowed by the time it is put forward for public consultation. It is expected that it will be ready for public consultation sometime during the 2nd quarter in 2014.
The following actions were agreed in relation to this:
Write to the department asking for a meeting as we would like to participate in the scoping stage for the green paper. Also, ask for resources to be provided so that we can participate fully.
E.g. Need to be in a position to bring people up to speed on how the green paper / white paper / participation process works. Documents need to be clear or explained, alternatives and choices clearly laid out and the information needs to be easily accessible and understandable.
Write to the petitions committee in Europe
3) Write to the national petitions committee
Theresa will begin this process by drafting correspondence and circulating to the core email list for collaboration.
– Network or organisation?:
How should the group be organised and expanded especially if funding is going to be supplied? It was suggested that a ‘network’ would fit the groups purposes best. It was suggested that existing organisations may facilitate banking arrangements. E.g. Irish Rural Link (Emer will check), Environmental Pillar (Theresa will check).
At the moment PCRE consists of a core group who discuss arising issues and ideas. Most are linked to other networks and groups. There is also a broader email list.
The core email group is open to anyone who wishes to be involved in discussing issues and ideas that arise. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to get involved.
The GAA was suggested as a possible means of growing the network.
– Political issues:
It was agreed that we need to engage with political parties but not to align with any particular party. This is a key period to get our message seen and heard when politicians are gearing up for elections.
It was suggested that local politicians be asked to get local councils / authorities to sign up to the ‘Covenant of Mayors’ which is a European organisation committed to local sustainable energy.
The ‘Open Government’ process was also mentioned, this is an Obama initiative for government focussing on targeted measurable outcomes, accountability, transparency etc. 2 yearly reviews.
– Press Release / Outline Policy:
It was agreed that a high level outline policy document should be prepared. This to be used as a press release or briefing document as needed.
– Community Energy:
A Working Group on Community Energy has been established. The aim of the working group is to bring together experts from the field and develop a common ‘policy position’ on community energy in Ireland. This process will establish the main barriers that currently exist for the development of community owned renewable energy projects in Ireland, and will identify key policy and legislative changes that need to happen in order to facilitate and incentivise the development of community owned renewable energy projects. It is proposed that an initial meeting of the group will take place in March 2014 and the outputs will be used to consult with the Government on the development of the forthcoming Green and White papers on energy.
Thank you to An Taisce for the use of the premises.