Northern Ireland’s government collapsed Monday in the wake of a $1.4 billion dollar green energy scandal recently uncovered by whistleblowers.
Martin McGuinness, Sinn Fein leader, resigned as deputy first minister early last week, but his party refused to replace him Monday in Northern Ireland’s devolved parliament. The rebuke will dissolve Northern Ireland’s government and force new elections. The Sinn Fein-led governing coalition was supposed to stay in power until May, 2021.
The government collapsed due to a scandal involving its Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), which intended to encourage businesses to use green energy as fuel, but instead paid businesses to burn fuel and cost U.K. taxpayers more than $1.4 billion, according to whistleblowers. The scheme was originally intended to cost only $40 million, but it ended up going 45 times over its initial cost projections due to loopholes. The scheme paid for biomass boilers, burning wood pellets, solar thermal power or heat pumps.
Britain itself had a similar scheme, but with a much lower potential payout. A business using RHI could collect a maximum of about $237,000 over 20 years abusing the system, but the same company in Northern Ireland could earn about $1.1 billion.
A whistleblower claimed they were able to manipulate the program in Northern Ireland to receive about $200 dollars in subsidies for every $120 they spent on green fuel heating an empty shed, according to The Times. A report by Northern Ireland’s auditor-general backed up this claim, and acknowledged that some individuals may have reaped about $1.1 million in profits though the scheme.
Great Britain faces another serious and entirely unrelated green energy scandal in which an anaerobic digester power plant eligible for millions in subsidies killed thousands of fish. The plant discharged hundreds of thousands of gallons of toxic waste into an eight-mile stretch of river.
As a result of heavy subsidies and grants, Brits paid an average of 54 percent more for electricity than Americans paid last year. Expensive subsidies for green energy account for roughly 7 percent of British energy bills, according to government study released last July.
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