The under-investment in the local 11kV electricity network may see a continued decline in small scale wind turbines, despite infrastructure is being introduced locally to support larger wind farm projects.
Plans are already in place to introduce new infrastructure in the Dromore area to support a cluster of proposed wind farms.
This is believed to be a clear indication that Government feels larger wind projects are the best way to meet its target of 40 per-cent of all the North’s electricity consumption being generated from renewable sources by 2020.
SONI Ltd, who are responsible for the North’s high voltage electricity network, say the existing infrastructure for the wind farms in the Dromore and Drumquin area will exceed the capacity of the existing electricity transmission network.
New plans include a new ‘cluster substation’ in the townland of Curraghamulkin to connect proposed wind farms to the electricity transmission network.
The plans, which are still at the consultation stage, include the construction of a new 110/33kV cluster substation in Curraghamulkin; construction of a new 110kV switching substation in Shannaragh, north east of Dromore; and the construction of approximately 10km of 110kV overhead power lines to connect the two substations.
SONI hope to have it all operational by 2017.
A recent public meeting in Dromore resulted in consternation among some local people, who were left disappointed when they learned that the investment would do nothing to alleviate the problems with the over saturation of the smaller 11kV network.
Speaking at last month’s committee meeting of the Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Lack UUP councillor Rosemary Barton said it was “a disgrace” that the project would not help single wind turbines to connect into the grid.
Dromore councillor Glenn Campbell added that it did not appear to have any direct benefit for the people in the local community.
A proposal was passed at the meeting, calling for NIE, the utility regulator and SONI Ltd to come before the new council.
Speaking to the UH, SONI engineer Brian Wilson said, “It will not directly remove the problem on the NIE network. It is two different entities, different companies.”
He said all councillors were invited to the Dromore meeting where it was stated that the project would not help the problems facing smaller scale generation in the area.
One analogy has compared the new line to a motorway, which could not feasibly be expected to run to every front door in the area.
“We were quite clear than that it wouldn’t help and we were clear on the complication,” said Mr Wilson. “A number of landowners did go away disappointed.”
He added that consultation is continuing, with hopes of moving onto the planning stage in the summer.
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