O'Rourke upbeat on power plant


The £21 million promised by the European Commission to help build a 120 megawatt, peat-fired electric power station on the Kildare-Offaly border is not lost, and will be available for spending until the end of 2001, the Minister for Public Enterprise, Ms O'Rourke, has said. Addressing the Dail, Ms O'Rourke said she would announce the consortium of independent consultants' "preferred bidder" from the short-listed candidates early next year.

"The Commissioner for Regional Policy, Ms Monika Wulf-Mathies, has confirmed to me that expenditure incurred up to the end of 2001 will be eligible for co-financing under the structural funds," Ms O'Rourke said. "I am confident that this time-frame will allow us to draw down all of the grant."

She told the Dail that the five short-listed candidates were now finalising their bids to build, own and operate the plant. The preferred bidder would likely be announced early next year, and the competition would then enter the detailed negotiation stage.

"In parallel with this, it is expected that the winning bidder will apply for planning permission and an EPA licence with a view to the engineering-construction phase commencing in early 1999," Ms O'Rourke said.

The construction would probably take around two and a half years, and be completed in the latter half of 2001, she added.