TWO DECADES OF 3 Counties Energy Agency SUCCESS 

The County Councils of Carlow, Kilkenny and Wexford working closely with 3 Counties Energy Agency (3CEA), have not only met but all exceeded the 33% energy reduction target set in the National Climate Action Plan.  

3CEA was set up in 2002, and developed partnerships with the County Councils, SMEs, Communities and citizens making their Energy Transition journey smoother. 

“It is really making a difference. 3CEA technical support ensures that project opportunities are identified and acted upon promptly where practical. The 3 Counties Energy Agency worked with the Councils’ Energy Teams to deliver projects that will deliver ongoing long term sustained energy reduction in each case resulting in a cumulative saving of €19.97M. All three Local Authorities are participating in a number of EU energy-saving projects with the assistance of 3CEA,” says Paddy Phelan, CEO of 3CEA.

Energy efficiency remains a priority to deliver further improvements and the County Councils of Kilkenny, Carlow and Wexford have been joined by Waterford city and County in 2021, all with the same mission of optimising their energy efficiency actions. 

“3CEA work in collaboration with the Local Authorities to evaluate, pilot and deliver great energy and carbon saving projects across their own building, public lighting & transport stock. The role of the Local Authorities to lead by example and good examples of this partnership are projects being delivered through various national grant programmes such as the Department of Environment, Climate & Communications Climate Action Fund and the SEAI’s Community Energy Grants. These are led by the Local Authorities, coordinated and managed by the Energy Agency, who are working with the many SME’s, communities and homeowners delivering projects right across the south east. This model of partnership is key to our success and to the success of the energy transition in the South East. The Local Authorities are playing their part and have met their own 2020 targets, with projects planned to ensure they meet the more ambitious 2030 targets. We, that is society as a whole, need to change our behaviour and reduce our reliance on imported fossil fuels. Everyone must play a part and 3CEA are here, to offer independent advice to all who want to make a difference,” said Alex Hamilton, 3CEA Senior Engineer.


Carlow County Council achieved 40% improvement in energy efficiency by delivering 17 energy saving projects, for example in public lighting (with long lasting LED bulbs and photocell controls saving 29,000 euro per annum), zero energy housing, and a revamp of the Carlow Fire Station heating system and addition of solar panels.

In everyday terms this is the equivalent of making 140 million cups of tea, or 63000 journeys from Malin Head to Mizen Head, a carbon emission reduction of 7000 tons. Growing numbers of homeowners are availing of grants to carry out energy upgrades and deep retrofits and the county is now 39.9% more energy efficient, beating the 33.3% target.


Kilkenny County Council saved energy for 670 million cups of tea and 59000 trips the length of the country reducing emissions by 6500 tonnes. This produced a saving of 2.6 million euro for the Council, delivering a saving of 41.6%, well above the 33.3% target. Public Lighting is the single biggest user of energy for the Council and multiple upgrades, including in the Kilkenny Machinery Yard have been carried out. Heating reduction such as in Castlecomer Library contributed to the overall energy reduction.


Wexford saved 269 million cups of tea or the amount of energy used by a typical family petrol car doing 43000 laps of the Wexford county boundary, reducing CO2 emissions by 2149 tonnes through avoided energy use, delivering a saving of 39.7%. The spectrum of projects and initiatives implemented by the Wexford County Council to achieve energy efficiency include the public lighting energy efficiency project whereby 91% of public lights across the county were replaced with more energy efficient LED bulbs. This gave a 65% reduction in energy use and 60% savings in operation and maintenance costs. Energy upgrades in Bunclody Fire Station, Gorey Library and the Council’s Machinery Yard all delivered substantial energy savings. The Council has also started transitioning their fleet to electric vehicles to further support the national policy and decarbonise local communities making them healthier and better places to live in.


3CEA CEO, Paddy Phelan added that “While local authorities in the region have done much to achieve lower C02 emissions by 2030, individual counties working under the Sustainable Energy Action Plans need to step up across Transport, Agriculture, Industry and Community.”