An independent expert panel is to draw up alternative routes to those proposed by EirGrid for controversial pylon projects.
The panel was appointed by Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte last February due to public concern about EirGrid's plans for a network of new 400KV lines across the Irish countryside.
A public consultation on proposed routes received 35,000 submissions.
The five-member panel, which includes economists Colm McCarthy and Prof John Fitzgerald, has met four times since February and has drawn up its terms of reference.
The biggest issue arising out of the recent public consultation was the preference for putting the cables under rather than above ground.
The panel, chaired by former Supreme Court judge Mrs Justice Catherine McGuinness, will supervise independent studies of the potential costs of putting cables underground.
Mr Rabbitte said he would put the panel’s assessment out “side by side” with EirGrid’s proposals and bothwould go for further public consultation.
The panel will look specifically at the planned GridWest project which covers parts of Mayo and Roscommon and the Grid Link projects from Cork through Waterford and Kildare.