Eirgrid has begun a public consultation process to map a suitable corridor for a €500 million high-voltage power line to serve south Leinster and east Munster.
The 400kV line will link stations at Knockraha in Cork, Great Island in Co Wexford and Dunstown in Co Kildare.
The Grid Link project will provide for increased future demand for electricity in Dublin, Kildare, Laois, Carlow, Kilkenny, Wicklow, Wexford, Waterford, Tipperary and east Cork.
Speaking at Cork County Hall yesterday, Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte urged the public to engage in the consultation process to identify unsuitable areas for pylons, such as protected landscapes, in order to map a route for the line.
“Without this project, the grid in the south and east of Ireland would not be sufficient to meet the region’s future electricity needs,” he said.
Eirgrid chief executive Dermot Byrne said the power line would ensure adequate electricity supply for potential investors. Intel’s manufacturing plant in Leixlip currently consumes a similar amount of electricity to Kilkenny city.
“A secure high-quality supply of electricity is a prerequisite for investors. Our challenge is to make it possible for every county in the country to be in a position to attract the next Intel,” Mr Byrne said.
The link between Leinster and Munster will cover some 250km, with three or four pylons every kilometre. At present, a 400kV cable line 440km long is operational between Clare and Dublin.
The new electricity infrastructure will help Ireland meet its 40 per cent renewable energy targets through increased provision of wind energy in particular.
Cork is the second-highest provider of wind energy, with a capacity of 269 megawatts, after Mayo, which has a capacity of 400 megawatts.
Eirgrid is examining an estimated 300 wind farms across the State with a capacity output of four times more renewable energy than is required. Last year, wind energy generated 18 per cent of electricity consumed in Ireland, according to Eirgrid
“The Grid Link project will help Ireland achieve its renewable energy targets by facilitating the integration of wind energy onto the transmission grid, thereby reducing our reliance on imported fossil fuels,” Mr Byrne said, adding it would also facilitate further electricity interconnection with the European grid, providing a “more secure electricity system”.
Overhead power lines are the technology of choice but the cable may be placed underground where constraints are a factor.
“It is possible in a small number of areas it may be necessary to go underground, but it’s impossible to develop a project like this 100 per cent underground,” he said.
Eirgrid will meet Irish Farmers’ Association representatives to discuss the concerns of farmers at the route selection stage.
The consultation stage runs until June 8th and information offices will open in Carlow, Carrick-on-Suir, Midleton and New Ross from next Monday providing access to maps and technical documentation.
FARMERS’ BODY WARNS OF NEED FOR CONSULTATION OVER ROUTE
THE CONSTRUCTION by Eirgrid of a high-voltage electricity power line to serve the south of the State will cause significant disruption for many farmers, the Irish Farmers’ Association has said.
The association’s national environment and rural affairs chairman Harold Kingston said it accepted the development of the electricity network was necessary.
However, he said the mistakes of the past in relation to a lack of consultation over the routes for power lines must be avoided.
“The planned grid development by Eirgrid will cause significant disturbance for the many farmers along the route in the counties affected. It is essential that lessons are learned from the recent problems in the midlands,” he said.
Mr Kingston was referring to the case of a Co Offaly woman jailed last September over her refusal to allow the ESB and Eirgrid on to her lands to complete construction of a power line. Teresa Treacy, Clonmore, Tullamore, spent 22 days in Mountjoy women’s prison after she refused to comply with High Court orders allowing ESB/Eirgrid workers access to her land.
The IFA will meet Eirgrid soon to emphasise the importance of extensive consultation to minimise the impact of the disruption associated with the new project.
Separately, an anti-pylon group is suing Eirgrid to recover costs incurred when an An Bord Pleanála hearing into the construction of a North/South electricity connector had to be abandoned.
County Monaghan Anti-Pylon Ltd, representing campaigners who want a €280 million high- voltage power line from Meath to Tyrone put underground, is seeking to recover lost funds of about €250,000 incurred when the oral planning hearing was stopped in 2010.
The hearing has not resumed.