Public’s view sought on energy strategy

The public will have a chance to express its view on Ireland’s future power network after EirGrid asked for submissions on its new draft strategy.

People will now have eight weeks to make submissions after the publication of the strategy, entitled Your Grid, Your Views, Your Tomorrow. A Discussion Paper on Ireland’s Grid Development Strategy’.

The ultimate cost of the programme is anticipated to be €2.7bn to €3.9bn, dependent on the options used in the redevelopment of the power grid.

For ex ample, with Grid Link, which runs from Knockraha just north of Cork city, to Dunnestown in Co Kildare, there are three options being explored: an overground system, and underground system, or the use of new technology which would make little or no visual impact to the existing infrastructure.

Similar options are being explored regarding Grid West, as well as the likelihood of a cable being placed underneath the River Shannon to transfer power from the western seaboard, where much of Ireland’s wind energy is generated, to the east.

Meanwhile, a proposal regarding the North-South interconnector is expected to be submitted to an Bord Pleanála in the coming weeks.

Communications Minister Alex White said the new strategy placed “a much stronger focus on engaging and consulting with local communities on future infrastructure development”.

Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Cork East TD Seán Sherlock said: “Communities have rightly expressed concern over the last number of months in relation to the plans put forward and a key part of their concern was the lack of consultation with the community. It is clear that Eirgrid has listened to communities and moved significantly to push further consultation.”

Fine Gael TD for Carlow/ Kilkenny, John Paul Phelan, welcomed news that an upgrade of the existing power lines is being considered, claiming it had always been the best option.

Employers group Ibec said the North-South interconnector should be an overhead line. EirGrid chief executive Fintan Slye said the company had committed to being open with people and now wanted to hear their views.

Once the period of public conultation is completed EirGrid will then make a submission to the Government-appointed independent expert panel in the autumn, with a final strategy to be published later this year. Another round of consultation could then take place before proposals are made to an Bord Pleanála.

It is thought that it could be two to three years before any work begins on the redevelopment of the power grid, although Ireland does have a target of achieving 40% of energy from renewables by 2020.

The draft strategy can be viewed at: www.eirgrid.com/media/EirGridsDraftGridDevelopmentStrategy.pdf 


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