Update on Power to the People
Posted by Jerry Mac Evilly on November 05, 2021 at 08:52 AM
The energy of the future must be renewable but it should also be community owned! Our Power to the People campaign is focused on making it possible for communities, schools and grassroots organisations to own, generate, use and sell their own electricity.
We want every school in Ireland to be a solar school! We’re continuing to campaign for changes to planning regulations to allow solar panels on schools.
Schools still need planning permission for even one solar panel. Schools that do manage to get solar panels are not entitled to payment for ANY surplus energy generated during the summer months when the school is closed. Solar panels are expensive, and grants are difficult to negotiate. The current system is madness. We are trying to break down these barriers, to make it easier for all schools to play an active role in the energy transition. We have been working on this for some time but decision makers keep kicking the ball down the road.
In October, we hosted four online Solar School Youth Assemblies with schools participating from Cork, Donegal, Limerick, Mayo, Sligo and Tipperary. Students developed creative plans to engage local decision makers and ensure that their schools are part of the transition to community owned, renewable energy. We were also joined by Senator Lynn Boylan, Senator Alice Mary Higgins and Deputy Ivana Bacik who listened to the students’ ideas. Students shared their views on what a sustainable school could look like and on what action should be taken by the Government.
Senator Lynn Boylan subsequently raised the issue of solar schools in the Seanad, calling for the removal of planning regulations that are making it difficult and expensive for schools to install solar panels.
Over the coming weeks students will be organising to take action in their local areas and we will follow up with them to see how they are getting on!