Energy poverty program “far short” of goals

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The Vale Efficiency program, to combat energy poverty in homes, has only awarded 11% of the incentives planned until the end of 2022, falling “far short” of the goals set out in the Recovery and Resilience Plan (PRR).

The warning is contained in the 2022 report of the National Monitoring Committee of the PRR (CNA-PRR) released today, which recommends the “urgent adoption of solutions” to increase the implementation of this program aimed at supporting economically vulnerable families until 2025.

“The Vale Efficiency incentive has fallen far short of expectations, putting the ultimate goal of 100,000 vouchers in 2025 in doubt. In 2022 almost 11,000 vouchers were allocated, with only 5,098 being used,” the document states.

By the end of 2022, 17,873 household applications were submitted and 10,985 vouchers allocated, i.e. about 11% of the target, but only 5,080 vouchers were used in practice.

“There are 4,383 ineligible applications, or a quarter of the applications submitted, and it is of interest to know the causes of ineligibility in order to identify the most frequent ones and evaluate changes that can avoid future cases of ineligibility,” the commission points out.

Of the total number of vouchers attributed, most went to the districts of Porto and Lisbon (37%), followed by Braga (10.6%), Setúbal (8.4%) and Aveiro (7%), with the remaining districts having a very low adhesion, which “anticipates a lack of knowledge of the measure and or illiteracy in the preparation of the application.

Given these numbers, the CNA-PRR recommends, among other measures, that the Government assess the possibility of extending the Efficiency Voucher to renters, since there is a high probability that people who are on social tariff are in rented housing.

“Given the low execution of this incentive and the potential impact it can play in reducing energy poverty in Portugal, its resolution should be given a sense of urgency and permanent dedication,” the committee also stresses.

As for the Energy Efficiency in Residential Buildings measure, also provided for in the RRP, the report states that in 2022 notices were open and were “highly accepted by families,” which led to an increase in the allocation of this incentive, which now totals 135 million euros.

By the end of 2022, 106,131 applications had been received and 70,261 paid out, for a total of 122.5 million euros, or 91% of the available amount, “with the goals set for 2025 already having been largely exceeded,” the commission also indicates.

The total amount of the RRP (€16,644 million), managed by the Recuperate Portugal Mission Structure, is divided among its three structuring dimensions — resilience (€11,125 million), climate transition (€3,059 million), and digital transition (€2,460 million).

Of the total allocation, about 13,900 million euros are grants and 2,700 million euros are loans.

All three dimensions of the plan have a 100% hiring rate.

This plan, which has an execution period until 2026, intends to implement a set of reforms and investments, aiming at the recovery of economic growth.

Besides having the goal of repairing the damage caused by covid-19, the RRP also has the purpose of supporting investments and generating employment.

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