Siemens offers to lend State the money to install water meters


ENERGY COMPANY Siemens is offering to lend the State the money needed to install up to 1.1 million domestic water meters, with the costs of the move being paid back through savings in the Government’s multi-billion euro water services programme.

Siemens Ireland managing director Dr Werner Kruckow said the offer was one of a range of measures which include the multi-national’s own bank financing energy saving measures in Government departments and public buildings.

Speaking in London at the European Future Energy Forum, Dr Kruckow said targets for retrofitting public buildings and the installation of water meters were part of Irish Government policy. But he said many State agencies and local authorities said they did not have the cash to invest in the energy saving measures.

Under the Siemens proposal energy saving measures connected with heat, ventilation, energy management systems and “intelligent lighting” among others, could be financed over an agreed term, possibly five years, through reductions in energy bills.

Dr Kruckow is to seek a meeting with Finance Minister Brian Lenihan to discuss how the offer might help achieve targets for the installation of water meters announced by John Gormley last January, as well as other targets in the Government’s National Energy Retrofit Programme, due to get under way next year.

The Retrofit Programme aims to save energy and reduce carbon emissions while providing a boost to employment among construction workers, energy auditors and policymakers. It contains efficiency targets for public and private sectors calls “for lending institutions to come up with specific, retrofit programme-based loans”.

In a presentation at the Energy Forum entitled “Energy Efficient Financing” Simon Corbett of Siemens Financial Services said rates of interest on such projects depended on the levels of risk involved, but were pitched at “commercial levels”. He said such schemes were well known within the EU and the company was happy to tender for businesses from public bodies in line with EU procurement rules.

In the UK similar schemes have been devised for United Utilities, and Southern Water while Dr Kruckow said the funding arrangements were popular in the United States, where considerable energy savings had been made, particularly in hospitals.

The Department of Energy said it “welcomed interest from private sector companies” in relation to financing the Retrofit programme.

A spokesman told The Irish Timesthe department was aware of the interest of a number of private sector bodies but had as yet received no definitive proposals. But the spokesman reiterated the department’s interest remarking “everything is on the table”.

Announcing the water metering project earlier this year, Mr Gormley said the State had “a problem” with the cost of the Water Services Investment Programme which from 2010-2012 would cost at least €1.8 billion. He said the meters would be rolled out over coming years but charges would not apply in advance of the next general election.