Green light: ESB pledges 3,700 jobs in energy drive

UP to 3,700 jobs are promised over the next four years under a range of green energy investments by the ESB.

The electricity firm insists the numbers and timeframe are realistic targets despite its recent loss of thousands of customers to Bord Gáis and a 37% drop in profits.

The jobs will be generated through external private ventures in which the ESB will be the main financial backer. However, the firm plans to hire 250 engineers and 50 other professionals over the next five years.

About 500 of the external jobs are to be created this year in three areas: a drive to increase home insulation; the creation of public charging points for electric cars and the installation of so-called ‘smart meters’ to replace traditional household meters.

The main areas of job creation up to 2013 will be:

* 1,500 in the roll-out of smart meters and in the creation of ‘smart networks’ that will time household appliances and heating systems to charge up and/or operate whenever demand on the electricity system is lowest.

* 900 jobs in electronic vehicles and wind energy.

* 550 jobs in the redevelopment of the ESB’s head office complex in Dublin. The offices hold 900 of the 1,500 Dublin-based staff but the new building would house all of them.

* 350 jobs from firms financed by the Novus Modus fund. An example is Cork firm Nua Lighting, which will increase its workforce from 25 to 80 to install energy efficient lighting in supermarkets.

Some 800 apprentices will be trained up as part of the project. The traineeships over the next five years will include 400 Fás apprentices who recently lost their jobs.

ESB bosses said the investments would require borrowings of about e4 billion but insisted this would not pose a problem despite the downturn, the recent loss of more than 100,000 customers to Bord Gáis’s electricity service and a soon to be announced drop in profits from e430m in 2007 to e270m last year. “ESB is able to do this because, as a utility business, we have a long-term perspective on investments,” said chairman Lochlann Quinn.

Energy Minister Eamon Ryan said the announcement was great news at a crucial time: “Based on government policy, one of Ireland’s finest semi-state companies is stepping up to the plate and helping provide the jobs of the future.”


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