Fears have been expressed today for the future of around half of Moneypoint power station's 194-strong workforce.
This follows a meeting between ESB local management and staff at the west Clare coal-burning plant this afternoon where it is understood job losses of around 100 was put forward by management.
The ESB is not pressing for compulsory redundancies, and in similar situations at other under-performing plants staff have been offered voluntary severances and offers of redeployment.
A statement from the ESB today stated that due to market pressures, carbon prices and increases in renewable energy, “Moneypoint is running far less than previously”.
The ESB statement said: “Given these market fundamentals, a low running regime is likely to persist into the future. The impact of these factors is that Moneypoint’s income has been significantly reduced.”
The statement added that “consequently, ESB needs to realign Moneypoint’s operation and resources with the new lower running regime”
The ESB stated that local station management has briefed staff and their union representatives on Monday afternoon on these challenges "and set out proposals for a reconfigured option for running Moneypoint".
The ESB said that “the consultation now in train will focus on the staffing levels required for the lower running regime, including discussions on how this can be achieved”.
The ESB is to cease all generation from coal in Moneypoint no later than 2025 and the latest figures from Eirgrid show that coal now accounts for 4% of the fuel mix in generating electricity for the national grid.
The 4% coal figure compares to 65% for gas and 7% for renewables.
An ESB spokesman said that today's briefing to staff commences a dialogue with them on a lower running regime, which the ESB state “will take time to develop and finalise”.
The spokesman said: “ESB is very aware of the uncertainty this creates for all our staff and ESB is committed to supporting them through this process.”
The ESB confirmed that it is “currently examining technology options for Moneypoint beyond 2025 that will deliver large-scale electricity generation, fuel diversity and security of supply”.
The statement stressed that “the development of replacement generation for Moneypoint, however, is contingent on a project winning an open auction for a capacity contract and on being commercially viable”.
A west Clare based councillor, Cllr Ian Lynch (Ind) said: “The loss of over 100 jobs is a devastating blow to the local economy.”
The Kilrush member of Clare County Council said: “The lack of clarity in the ESB statement gives no indication to the actual future of Moneypoint.
“It was hoped that while job losses were expected that these would be a cost-saving exercise to protect the future but we have not been given the plan for the future."
“The future plans for the station are critical to how we move forward and look to attract new industries but it is time for the ESB to come out with their full plans for the future."